MEDICAL LEGAL PARTNERSHIP HELPS OLDER ADULT WITH CHRONIC ILLNESS REMAIN IN HOME & ACCESS BENEFITS


Vilma, who is in her early 60’s and lives alone, was one of the first patients to be referred to Legal Services through the Healthy West Kendall Medical Legal Partnership, an innovative project where Legal Services and West Kendall Baptist Hospital collaborate to help improve the health and well-being of patients. The goal of the Medical Legal Partnership is to identify legal needs and work with attorneys to address concerns related to housing, food and public benefits assistance, and access to healthcare, which may negatively impact a person’s health.


For several months before seeking assistance from Legal Services, Vilma had been unable to work in her full-time retail job due to a severe heart condition. She had applied for disability benefits, Reemployment Assistance (RA) benefits, and Medicaid but had not received a response from any of these agencies and had only been able to secure assistance with groceries. With no income, she had started to fall behind on her rental payments and was thousands of dollars in arrears. She was at the brink of homelessness and feared contracting COVID-19 if she had to head to a shelter, especially given her poor health. She felt frightened and was distressed over her circumstances, which could lead to more devastating effects on her deteriorating health.

Legal Services Staff Attorney Daniel Rowinsky assisted Vilma in obtaining RA benefits for the time she had been able to work with limitations caused by her disability. Also, he assisted her in obtaining Social Security benefits and quickly got her application for Medicaid approved. Moreover, he connected her with a rental assistance program for individuals experiencing financial hardship during the pandemic. Fortunately, she was approved to receive funds totaling over $21,000 to cover her back rent and several months of future rent. Thanks to the assistance of Legal Services, Vilma was able to become financially stable, which has had a massive impact on her health. Although her health struggles persist, she is now in a stronger and more hopeful position to face them.


In Vilma’s own words, “I have had a wonderful experience with Legal Services of Greater Miami. I am immensely grateful for my lawyer, Daniel. When I came to Legal Services, I was not aware I was eligible for government assistance and thanks to him I was able to get on disability. He has been very helpful and caring. He even continues to keep me updated about any available programs that I may qualify for.”


If you need help with reemployment assistance, disability benefits, or public benefits assistance, please visit https://www.legalservicesmiami.org/self-help or call 305-576-0080 to apply for services.

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