4 Evaluation for Benefits Eligibility

Clients with employment-related complaints, especially after a job loss, should be screened for benefits eligibility. Even if you don’t handle benefits issues yourself, you can help your clients by recognizing potential eligibility and pointing them in the right direction. Clients can have mistaken ideas about benefits eligibility (e.g., erroneously believing that they can’t apply for unemployment compensation benefits if they quit or don’t have a separation notice—commonly called a “pink slip”). Others, particularly formerly middle-class families who’ve dropped into poverty, are often unaware of what benefits exist or how to apply.

Connect them to, or help them get, any benefits for which they might be eligible. For example, anyone unemployed and looking for work may be eligible for unemployment compensation benefits; anyone with low income and few assets may be eligible for food stamps or other food aid from the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS); a client caring for minors might be able to get cash assistance through DCFS, the Social Security Administration (SSA), the Department of Veterans Affairs, or the family courts; a client having difficulty sustaining jobs because of health issues may be able to get disability benefits from SSA or through a job-connected disability benefit; a client may need help to stave off eviction or foreclosure or get their subsidized housing costs re-adjusted; etc. You should be able to find the appropriate source of help and eligibility information on the internet (use only government agency or reputable non-profits for information sources). Free legal aid programs typically put a high priority on helping those with benefits and housing issues.

Disclaimer: The articles in the Gillis Long Desk Manual do not contain any legal advice.