Posted November 5, 201910:45 am
Additional funding in FY 2020-21 budget will serve veterans in need of legal services
CLEVELAND, OH (Nov. 5, 2019) — Thanks to the enhanced General Revenue Fund funding for legal aid in Ohio’s FY 2020-21 budget, The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland will expand its support of veterans in need of crucial legal services.
“I was happy to partner with Sen. Schuring on this important amendment to benefit our veterans,” said Sen. John Eklund (R-Munson Township). “Ohio’s veterans have sacrificed a great deal in service to our country, and it’s our duty to ensure they get the legal help they need.”
The additional $500,000 in statewide funding for Ohio’s legal aids is to be used solely to provide legal services for veterans and will be distributed by the Ohio Access to Justice Foundation.
“We commend the General Assembly for their commitment to serving veterans who are struggling to makes ends meet,” said Angie Lloyd, executive director, Ohio Access to Justice Foundation.
Ohio’s veterans experience legal challenges related to securing and maintaining VA benefits, accessing healthcare and medical benefits, and resolving family, housing, and consumer issues, among others. Ohio’s legal aid organizations help veterans overcome these challenges and get back on the path to stable housing, health, and employment.
Although Ohio’s legal aids served 4,402 veterans in 2018, the need for legal services far exceeds the available resources. In 2017, the federal Legal Services Corporation found that nationally, 71 percent of households with veterans or other military personnel have experienced a civil legal problem in the past year.
For example, “Kevin” (name changed to protect client privacy) is a U.S. veteran who had been receiving a monthly veteran’s benefit for many years. When he turned 65 and started receiving Social Security, he reported this to the Veteran’s Affairs (VA) office, so the monthly amount would be reduced in accordance with the new income. But no change was made, and Kevin’s veteran’s benefits continued in the same amount. Then one day, Kevin received a notice that he owed the VA over $4,000 in return for over-payments.
Kevin knew what to do. He called The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland, and an attorney helped him by submitting a waiver request to the VA’s debt management committee on wages and compromises. The VA approved the request to waive the over-payment, and now pays Kevin the full amount he is entitled to each month.
Cleveland Legal Aid helps veterans and their families overcome these challenges and get back on the path to stable housing, health, and employment. In 2018, 646 of Legal Aid’s cases involved U.S. Veterans or active duty military members – impacting a total of 1,227 people.