Seattle Community Law Center
Hannah Zommick is working this summer at the Seattle Community Law Center. SCLC is a non-profit legal aid organization dedicated to providing high-quality Social Security and SSI representation to the people who need benefits the most and are least likely to secure representation due to barriers preventing them from accessing the justice system. SCLC provides services for people with disabilities who are homeless or low income. Hannah is working for SCLC’s Social Security Advocacy Project. SSAP provides legal advice, advocacy, referral and direct legal representation to low-income individuals facing disputes with the Social Security Administration regarding their benefits. Hannah is working on all aspects of such social security cases, from client intakes and interviews to preparing memos and briefs for administrative hearings. Hannah is also working at SCLC’s weekly Overpayment Clinic, which provides assistance to clients who have the ability to advocate for themselves but still need some assistance and advice. Hannah has already learned a lot about the administrative appeals process and how important access to representation is during this process.
July 2, 2012
I am starting my fourth week as an intern at the Seattle Community Law Center. It has already been a fantastic learning experience and I am looking forward to the work ahead. One of my goals for the summer was to develop my client interviewing skills, and during my first week I was able to meet one-on-one with an individual who attended the Overpayment Clinic. SCLC is now representing this individual and I have continued to work with them to develop their case.
During my first few weeks I was assigned various cases to work on under the supervision of the director of the Social Security Advocacy Project. It has been a great learning experience working on so many different cases because the issues in each case are unique. Some clients are dealing with an overpayment, which is when Social Security alleges that it overpaid the client in benefits and now wants the client to pay back the benefits, or a termination of benefits, which can happen if Social Security finds that the client is no longer disabled according to its rules, even if the client is still disabled and unable to work. Part of my job has been to find and research case law, Social Security regulations, and CFRs that support our arguments and will help get the clients back on benefits.
Another interesting part of my work is conducting client intakes through SCLC’s intake phone line. Even if an SCLC attorney does not end up representing a caller, one of the attorneys may still provide legal advice. I have done several small research projects to follow up on these intakes, such as researching how dividends from Native American Corporations impact SSI benefits and how an individual can get continuing benefits during the appeals process.
It has also been great to get to know the attorneys at SCLC better and helpful to hear about their own career development in civil legal aid.
July 29, 2012
I only have three weeks left of my summer internship at Seattle Community Law Center and I can’t believe the summer has gone by so quickly. I have really enjoyed meeting and working with clients directly, and my work this summer has reinforced my desire to work in direct legal aid services after I graduate.
A really rewarding experience has been working closely with a particular client to navigate the Social Security system and to help them get a favorable decision regarding their overpayment and termination of benefits case. I met this client during my first week at SCLC at the Overpayment Clinic. I wrote several memos and letters for this client’s case, and I also researched various aspects about their case, such as rules about income and resources limits. I was also able to attend a meeting with this client and their claims representative at a Social Security office. The client was grateful for our help in resolving the issue, and it was rewarding for me to see that the client got the legal help that they needed regardless of their ability to pay.
This summer internship has been so valuable and an amazing learning experience and I am very appreciative for PILF’s support.