Benefits Counseling

For over twenty years, PRC’s Benefits Counseling Program has provided benefits advocacy and direct legal representation to San Francisco residents in response to the need for economic justice and health access. We are committed to providing comprehensive, specialized, culturally competent, free legal benefits representation within a harm reduction and client-centered context to people living with HIV/AIDS or mental health issues.

Economic Justice and Health Access

Income and health insurance are fundamental rights that should be accessible to everyone, regardless of circumstance. Without expert, vigorous legal representation, people are routinely denied benefits because the eligibility criteria, determination process and adjudication of claims are complex, and subject to lengthy delays, judicial interpretation and regulatory change.

The unwavering mission of the benefits program is to ensure that people receive quality legal representation, resulting in victorious administrative claims for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Cash Assistance Program for Immigrants (CAPI), Medi-Cal and Medicare. Replacement income and health insurance through these claims give people a fighting chance and increase access to housing, medical and mental health care, medication, food and nutritional supplements, in-home support, methadone and basic necessities. Securing federal and state funded income and health insurance for people otherwise uninsured and without resources also saves vital county dollars.

We specialize in representing those most underserved, who are facing systemic barriers, multiple oppressions and the impact of social and legal inequalities that have resulted in poverty, homelessness, incarceration and lack of medical care. We have developed effective legal strategies to immediately respond to the complex regulations that deny benefits for people with alleged criminal warrants, documented substance use or complex immigration status.

Effective, Client-Centered Legal Benefits Representation

PRC’s diverse, committed and experienced benefits staff, comprised of a team of attorneys, advocates and legal assistants, provides direct legal representation to San Francisco residents living with HIV/AIDS or individuals with mental health issues referred by specific Department of Public Health sites. We represent clients throughout the entire administrative process, including initial Social Security related disability claims, reconsideration of initial denials, hearings before federal Administrative Law Judges, and requests for review of unfavorable hearing decisions by the Appeals Council. We represent people with initial Cash Assistance Program for Immigrants (CAPI) claims and hearings of CAPI denials before state Administrative Law Judges. We also enroll eligible clients in the State of California’s private health insurance premium payment program (CARE/HIPP) in order to preserve their insured status.

We represent clients whose benefits could be terminated due to continuing disability medical reviews and alleged criminal felony warrants or violations of probation or parole at the initial level and subsequent levels of appeal, in order to maintain life-saving income and health insurance.

We provide consultations to San Francisco residents regarding overpayments, medical leaves, State Disability Insurance (SDI), Medi-Cal programs, Medi-Cal/HIPP, ADAP, Medicare, HIPAA, Cal-COBRA, COBRA and OBRA, and general questions around public and private disability income and health insurance benefits, including changes in laws and regulations that may affect eligibility and access to these benefits. We address issues surrounding returning to work in our monthly workshops on how earned income impacts disability income and health insurance, and provide consultations after people have attended the workshop.

Currently, our attorneys and advocates are fluent in the following languages: Spanish, Vietnamese, Cantonese, Pu Tong Hua/Mandarin, Russian and English. We provide translators whenever necessary, and strive to represent monolingual clients who often face increased barriers to accessing representation.

Please call (415) 777-0333 for more information regarding eligibility and the intake process.

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This website has been prepared for general information purposes only, and it is not intended to be legal advice.
The information contained in this website cannot replace the advice of competent and licensed legal counsel.

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