Legal Aid Society

Civil Court Litigation

Pro Se Claimant With Physical and Learning Disabilities Desperately Seeks Counsel to Appeal Denial of Benefits in Federal District Court.

MOTION Due February 13, 2020

Our client is in his fifties and suffers from an extremely painful lumbar degenerative disc disease, as well as a seizure disorder.  Additionally, due to difficulties related to a learning disability he has had very limited educational opportunities. For most of his life he lived with a family member who provided for his needs, but is now without that assistance and is struggling to manage both his needs and those of his adult disabled child.

Initially denied SSI benefits in August 2015, the client’s appeal was not heard and decided upon by an Administrative Law Judge until March 2018 because of both administrative delays and frequent changes in the advocates representing him. The Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) failed to address gaps or fully develop the record and ruled that our client’s testimony regarding pain and limitation could not be supported by the medical record without adequate justification. The ALJ also failed to consider the regulatory factors required in determining a claimant’s credibility regarding their subjective symptoms of pain. Since the March 2018 denial the client has proceeded diligently, but with great difficulty as a pro se litigant.

Despite the challenges, the client was able to file a pro se appeal in Federal Court in the Eastern District of New York. The District Court Judge, upon learning of the issues at the Agency offices, the confusion regarding continued representation, and the client’s limited reading ability and understanding of notices has granted him good cause for a late filing of the appeal. The Court recently gave the client until February 13, 2020 to file a motion for judgment on the pleadings. We are hopeful that with the filing of a notice of appearance by Counsel, the Court may grant and additional extension for the initial motion. The Legal Aid Society is seeking pro bono assistance in helping our Disability Advocacy Practice represent this client in appealing the ALJ’s ruling in the Eastern District Court.


Transgender Woman Seeks Pro Bono Assistance Revising Name Change Order

The Legal Aid Society represents a transgender woman who needs legal assistance to revise a name change order to reflect her true gender identity. Our client is a 46 year old transgender woman originally from Detroit who receives SSI for depression and gender dysphoria. She has not had gender re-assignment surgery yet, but that is her ultimate goal.

She sought the assistance of The Legal Aid Society in obtaining a revised birth certificate.  Years prior, she had gotten a Name Change Order from Supreme Court in Livingston County, legally changing her name.

When our attorney spoke with Vital Records in Michigan, they stated she had three options. We chose what appeared to be the quickest option in order to get her some type of identifying documentation since she has been approved for an apartment in an assisted living program and that program required her birth certificate. For this option, our client had only to submit a copy of her NYS picture ID and the current court order.  The revised birth certificate would then contain both her current name and the name assigned to her at birth. We assisted her in getting the birth certificate.

Unfortunately, for the sake of expediency, the option that was chosen includes both names, which we understood when we decided to pursue it. However, the revised birth certificate is wholly inadequate. It prominently lists her birth name in large type on top, then in very small print that is barely visible further down the document, lists her new name.

In light of this, our client would now like to get a new birth certificate using a second option from the state of Michigan. For this option she would need a copy of her NYS picture ID and a revised court order that specifically directs that (a) her new birth certificate contain only her new name and (b) should not disclose her original name and (c) that her old/original birth certificate be sealed.

Our client needs a volunteer to start a Modification of a Name Change Order proceeding in Supreme Court in New York City, probably Queens where she currently resides.  She would like the revised order to specifically state the language that the State of Michigan needs to generate a new birth certificate with her current name only as in the option described above.