Homeless Action Center (HAC) is a community-based legal services program founded in 1990 to provide legal services to homeless people in Alameda County. Over time, HAC’s specialty became public benefits advocacy, with a focus on Social Security disability benefits. The process of qualifying for disability benefits can be lengthy and difficult. Employing a client-centered focus and harm reduction principles, Staff Attorneys work closely with other legal services programs and social services programs to assist clients in meeting their emergency and longer-term needs during this process. HAC represents over 2,000 clients at a time. Please refer to www.homelessactioncenter.org.
STAFF ATTORNEY POSITION
HAC is seeking Staff Attorneys with a minimum of 5 years experience. The Staff Attorneys will primarily represent clients in applications and appeals for SSI/Social Security Disability benefits, and/or CAPI benefits.
Duties include but are not limited to the following:
DIRECT CLIENT SERVICES
- Represent forty clients in all stages of the application process for Social Security disability benefits/CAPI, including initial, reconsideration, administrative hearings, the SSA appeals council, and federal district court:
- SSI/SSDI/CAPI representation generally includes the following minimum duties: contact potential clients; interview clients, assess status eligibility and determine status of any existing or prior claims,complete internal HAC and external SSA and other agency forms; initiate filings/appeals in a timely manner to protect eligibility; pursue, read, and summarize medical records and other evidence; correspond with clients’ physicians and other treatment providers; arrange medical assessments and transportation to medical appointments; submit information electronically; collaborate with SSA and it’s proxies via phone, email, fax and mail; develop legal arguments and write persuasive letters; and maintain regular contact with clients.
- Should the case proceed to the hearing level, the attorney will represent the client at an Administrative Hearing, which typically includes drafting and submitting a pre-hearing brief, preparing client testimony and an opening statement, answering questions from the judge, conducting a direct exam of the client, and cross examining medical and vocational experts.
- Negative or partially favorable hearing decisions will be assessed for appealability, and attorneys may file for Appeals Council review, and possibly District Court review, and/or file new claims as the situation dictates.
- Occasionally assist clients with issues related to receipt of disability benefits, such as overpayments, payee issues, and employment issues.
- Maintain case files and electronic records following agency guidelines.
- Calendar all deadlines and other case-related dates in agency case management software (Prevail). Use Prevail reports and other features to manage your caseload.
- Help clients apply for and retain other public benefits, e.g MediCal, General Assistance and CalFresh.
- Provide legal advice, brief services and referrals to ones SSI clients as needed to help them with issues beyond SSISSDI and public benefits.
- Be or become competent in Social Security law. Stay up-to-date on the subject matter.
- Be proficient in Microsoft Office Suite.
- Adapt to changes and challenges in law, office procedures, resources for clients, and technology.
- Practice harm reduction and trauma-informed lawyering on a day-to-day basis, and learn and practice de-escalation.
- Develop a familiarity with eligibility criteria for HAC’s services and the scope of HAC’s services.
- Carry a caseload of 40 SSI/SSDI cases at all levels of the administrative process.
- Maintain contact with clients, which may include travel and visits to homeless encampments and other spots where people stay.
- Perform periodic “on duty” shifts, which includes answering the office phone and providing and documenting brief service assistance to walk-in clients.
- Attend monthly staff meetings and periodic all-staff trainings.
- Attend regular case reviews with managing attorneys.
- Assist in office cleaning.
- Track time and complete monthly timesheets.
- Maintain your schedule in Outlook, learn and follow procedures for making your in/out of office presence known.
- Maintain shared information resources such as Sharepoint, outlook contacts, resource binders, and other sources of shared efficiency.
- Minimum of 5 years experience as an attorney.
- Direct Legal Services preferred, especially experience with SSI/SSDI benefits.
- Excellent written and oral communication, particularly advocacy.
- Sensitivity to people with disabilities of diverse backgrounds . Our clients are vulnerable, resilient people who deserve your absolute best work.
- Must be well-organized, hard-working, reliable, dedicated, flexible, enthusiastic, detail-oriented, justice-oriented, and have the ability to work cooperatively with others in a collegial, yet challenging, environment.
- Must be comfortable applying harm reduction principles.
- Commitment to cultural humility, client-centered services, and trauma-informed principles.
HAC currently has three office locations (starting in March, there will be two). Attorneys and advocates share office space in an open office environment. The office is often chaotic and can be loud, but the open space encourages collaboration. We represent clients who are disabled, both mentally and physically, often homeless or on the verge of homelessness, and experiencing or with a history of severe trauma. We work with clients who may come into the office intoxicated on alcohol or drugs, may be angry or otherwise expressing emotions, appropriately or not, and may yell at you or other staff. Though we have a casual office environment, we expect that all staff will treat our clients with dignity and respect at all times. Staff will use harm reduction techniques at all times, and apply de-escalation strategies when needed. A sense of humor is extremely helpful in our office environment. Finally, please note that we have animals – cats and dogs – in the offices.
DIVERSITY, EQUITY, & INCLUSION
HAC is committed to supporting diversity, equity, and inclusion in the office, and to working toward an anti-racist organization and society. HAC is fortunate to have dedicated staff who have put in a tremendous amount of work the last two years towards positively impacting change around diversity, equity, and inclusion. Our staff-led HAC-POC Committee was launched in 2018 to promote racial equity by advocating for a racially diverse and inclusive environment at HAC while equipping managers to lead diverse and inclusive teams. HAC’s Executive Director has declared that Diversity, Equity and Inclusion will be one of the organization’s top priorities, and the Management Team, in partnership with staff, are continuing to strive to increase equity and inclusion within HAC.
SALARY & BENEFITS
- Starting salary commensurate with experience, based on scale; entry level salary for licensed attorneys is $62,675. For attorneys with 5 years barred, starting salary would be $68,943. Salary scale is examined at least annually.
- Employer paid insurance: health, vision, and dental, as well as life insurance and long term disability insurance. Coverage for employee only; employee may purchase coverage for spouse and/or dependents through HAC.
- Subsidy for Commuter Check program.
- 403(b) account available without employer contribution.
- Generous vacation, holiday and sick time.
Please submit a resume, cover letter, and list of three references IN ONE PDF DOCUMENT to firstname.lastname@example.org by January 17, 2020. As part of your cover letter, please address the following question:
In order to best serve our clients and our community, HAC is committed to creating an equitable and inclusive workplace in which differences are acknowledged and valued. How has your personal background or experience, professional or otherwise, prepared you to contribute to social justice, racial equity, and diversity among our staff?
HAC is committed to equity in hiring. We encourage people of color, women, people with disabilities, older people, LGBTQIA people, and members of other historically oppressed groups to apply. It is HAC’s policy to prohibit discrimination and harassment of any type and to afford equal employment opportunities to employees and applicants without regard to race, color, ethnicity, ancestry, religion, age, sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, pregnancy, medical condition or genetic information, veteran status, national origin, disability, marital, or other protected status. HAC will conform to the spirit, as well as the letter, of all applicable laws and regulations.