Staff Profile: Karla Perry, Esq.

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Among Legal Aid’s many talented attorneys is Karla Perry – a Supervising Attorney in the Health, Education, Work, Income and Immigration (HEWII) Practice Group. Upon completion of her undergraduate work at Wittenberg University, Ms. Perry earned her law degree at Valparaiso University.

Ms. Perry began her career as a law clerk for the Cleveland Municipal Court, assisting in their Mediation Program. In 1995, Ms. Perry took a position with the Long Term Care Ombudsman, working in the Office for Medicare Advocacy. Finally, in 2001, Karla became a Legal Aid attorney, satisfying her inherent “inclination to help and impact others.”

Ms. Perry brought her knowledge and previous work experience to Legal Aid’s elder law practice: focusing on public benefits in her casework and advocacy to secure Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security benefits for eligible Legal Aid clients.

Recently, a disabled client sought Legal Aid’s help when the Social Security Administration (SSA) unexpectedly terminated his benefits and claimed he was overpaid $33,000. Ms. Perry accepted the case and soon discovered that SSA had deemed the client no longer disabled.

However, the client was hearing impaired and had other physical disabilities that made him eligible for SSA benefits. Ms. Perry enlisted a translator from Cleveland Hearing and Speech and worked with her client to apply for a reinstatement of benefits that was quickly granted.

She also renegotiated the overpayment amount to ease the financial burden on her client in the future. During this process, Ms. Perry realized that the client was eligible for the Qualified Medicare Beneficiary (QMB) Program and oversaw the client’s successful enrollment.

Another recent achievement for Ms. Perry involved a formerly mid-income family who had suffered through the rough economy – facing the uncertainty of hunger and poverty, and finding themselves in need of Legal Aid’s services. Karla guided the family through the process of obtaining food stamps – something they never imagined having to do before the economic downturn. Ms. Perry commented that the family was “navigating places where they’d never been before. It was very unnerving for them.”

After securing their benefits, Ms. Perry received a letter from the family acknowledging her hard work to help them “start to get out of the hole.” They went on to thank her for “not looking down on them,” stating how good it felt to “have someone in [their] corner.”

Ms. Perry says, “What I enjoy most about working at Legal Aid is the sense of collegiality,” she continues, “I am fond of the idea that my colleagues and I are all working towards a common goal.”

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