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Life-Saving Advocacy and Benefits

posted by: Brianna Voigt, December 15, 2017

Our advocacy is possible and effective because of supporters like you.  Because of your generosity, the staff at SCLC are able to narrowly tailor the advocacy they provide to the needs of our clients who live with disabilities. From encouragement and advice, to providing tools for self advocacy, to full-scale legal representation, the service level we offer wholly meets the needs of the client regardless of what Social Security problem they might have.

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Full Representation

Ernie needed help applying for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) as he was re-entering the community from prison. SSI is a Social Security is a program for people who are low-income and living with a disability. Ernie lives with schizophrenia, PTSD, anxiety, and depression. Additionally, he has completely lost sight in one eye and is slowly losing vision in the other.

Photograph by Daniel Berman Photography

After being released from prison, Ernie was staying in transitional housing.  This is a critical moment for many people who re-enter the community, and housing stability hinges on the ability to rent/own a place to call home.  The symptoms that stem from Ernie’s disabilities prevent him from being able to hold down a job.  Without the ability to earn income, Ernie would not be able to afford housing.  SSI bridges this critical gap for Ernie and so many others in his situation.

Ernie reached out to SCLC to get help applying for benefits. SCLC takes a fast and  upfront approach to helping clients apply for benefits building the record immediately to make the case for benefits strong right from the start.  This approach is successful, and gives a person a greater chance of being approved for benefits more quickly.

It worked for Ernie! Through a process that can sometimes take years, with SCLC’s help, Ernie was approved for benefits in only five months. A true success for Ernie.

Now, Ernie has moved into permanent housing, and is receiving SSI and retirement benefits.


Sometimes, the people who walk through our doors are powerful and savvy self-advocates.  They simply need a little direction and a small boost from the SCLC staff.

Raphael, is a 70 year old Salvadorian man and naturalized U.S. citizen with a very unique problem with his retirement benefits. When he applied for his retirement benefits, the Social Security Administration (SSA) required that he provide proof of age by showing a copy of his birth certificate. Raphael was visibly upset when he shared the story of his birth certificate. The certificate was lost when the town hall in his hometown was destroyed during the Salvadorian Civil War. There is no formal record of his birth.

Fortunately, Raphael had several other documents, including his Salvadorian marriage certificate. SCLC showed Raphael other acceptable ways that he could prove his age to Social Security, and we were able to translate his marriage certificate from Spanish to English so the SSA representative could easily use the document to confirm his age.

Raphael returned to SCLC just a week after he had first called us.  He had good news and a letter of thanks.  With the guidance SCLC was able to offer, Raphael’s self advocacy was effective.  Social Security approved his application for retirement benefits and he had already started receiving benefit payments!  His letter reads:

Thank you for taking the time to talk with me, I sincerely appreciate your effort you spend reviewing my case and goals, and the knowledge you offered in recommending strategies for achievement of them.

The advice and encouragement you have provided me was very helpful.  I did not know how to start solving my problem and I did not have the complete documentation to start my application for retirement benefits.  At the beginning of this process I thought everything was lost for me.  Now, thanks to you, I have my full retirement benefits and Medicare which I will use to continue my treatment in the hospital for my kidney failure.

Thank you one more time.  You are doing a great service to me and the poor and disabled community around Seattle.


Just as Ernie and Raphael are grateful for the advocacy they received, we are grateful for you!  Our advocacy is possible and effective because of supporters like you.  Volunteers, donors, and trumpeters of SCLC make our organization, our community, strong.

We wish you happy holidays and a joyous New Year!

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