Health Legal Services (HLS)

Health Legal Services (HLS) works to remove barriers to health stability and secure justice by providing comprehensive legal services to individuals living with chronic or life-threatening health conditions.

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About Health Legal Services

Health Legal Services (HLS) stabilizes the lives of individuals with chronic or life-threatening health conditions by providing comprehensive legal services regarding income, healthcare benefits, housing rights, debtor relief, disability discrimination, and estate planning.

How HLS Helps

  • Free legal advice and representation for individuals with HIV/AIDS, diabetes, and other chronic or life-threatening conditions
  • Educational workshops and technical assistance for community groups, medical service providers, public officials, attorneys, and staff at community-based organizations
  • Policy advocacy

HLS Works in the Following Issue Areas

  • Public and Private Benefits and Insurance: federal and state disability programs, private long-term disability, Medi-Cal, Medicare, and COBRA.
  • Housing Rights: landlord-tenant disputes, evictions, habitability problems, and discrimination in housing.
  • Discrimination: differential treatment against individuals based on their HIV/AIDS or diabetes status or other protected classes, and reasonable accommodations.
  • Employment Rights: claims for unpaid wages, unemployment insurance benefits, and discrimination in employment.
  • Estate Planning and Wills: simple wills, advanced health care directives (living wills), financial powers of attorney, and guardianships.
  • Debtor Relief: advice regarding creditor harassment and other issues.
  • Other Services: as appropriate.


Client Stories

Red’s Story

A former waste water operator and member of the Teamsters Union, 59-year-old Red found himself on the brink of homelessness when AIDS undermined his health. Red was physically unable to work, and his State Disability Insurance was quickly running out. Without continued benefits, he wouldn’t be able to pay rent, buy food or afford transportation to medical appointments. Benefits appeals can take more than a year, but Red’s need was immediate. The mission of Health Legal Services (HLS) is to ensure that people like Red can access the life-stabilizing benefits they need. Managing a chronic illness is a serious challenge in the best of times. Without a steady income and affordable health care, it’s nearly impossible. Unfortunately, the benefits programs meant to provide a safety net for those in dire straits are complex and hard to access. Many eligible people with serious illnesses are denied just because they can’t fight their way through the maze of red tape.HLS attorneys successfully represented Red through the Social Security appeals process to restore his benefits. HLS also helped him access funds to cover his basic cost of living while waiting on a decision from Social Security. His legal team collected medical records and letters of support from doctors to submit to Social Security as evidence of his disability. Based on this evidence, he was approved for full benefits without a hearing. Red was able to remain in his home and focus on managing his health

Melvinnia’s Story

Access to comprehensive, affordable health insurance coverage is critical to the health stability of people living with chronic or life-threatening health conditions. Complex eligibility rules and bureaucratic enrollment and appeal processes make navigating health insurance coverage difficult for consumers. Marvin came to Health Legal Services when he was suddenly switched from a $20 monthly premium Medi-Cal plan to a plan requiring a $600 per month out-of-pocket cost. Additionally, Medi-Cal stopped paying for Marvin’s Medicare premium, costing him an additional $100 per month. Marvin could not afford these increases on his limited Social Security income. Our Health Legal Services staff intervened and, after investigation, learned that when Marvin changed employers, he was incorrectly removed from the Medi-Cal program that provides insurance for people with disabilities who work. HLS worked with Medi-Cal to correct the error so that he was placed back on the Working Disabled program that offers an affordable premium; now, he is again able to afford all of his ongoing medical costs. HLS works to ensure access to health care through cases like Marvin’s and its policy work in coalition with other local, state, and national organizations around the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

Rosa’s Story

The In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) program is an important alternative to out-of-home care, such as nursing homes or board and care facilities and provides services to low-income elderly, blind or disabled individuals so that they can remain safely in their own homes. The family of Rosa, a 90-year-old woman living with diabetes and late stage Alzheimer’s disease, had cared for Rosa in their home for many years, but she began to experience behavioral disturbances, hallucinations, and blindness due to diabetic retinopathy, which made it increasingly difficult to provide adequate care. Rosa’s family received partial funding for their services through IHSS program and hoped to receive additional IHSS funding to give Rosa with “protective supervision,” given her increased needs. Their request was denied, and the family contacted HLS after learning about the Diabetes Law Collaborative, a medical-legal partnership between HLS and Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, at a medical visit. An HLS attorney investigated the situation, interviewed Rosa’s family members, obtained supporting documents from Rosa’s physicians, and then presented Rosa’s case for protective supervision before an administrative law judge, who agreed she needed 24-hour supervision and granted Rosa the expanded IHSS services. This allowed Rosa’s family to hire a qualified healthcare worker, thus relieving some of the stress of daily caregiving and ensuring Rosa’s safety and protection.

Staff


Chuck Adams
Volunteer Intake/Legal Assistant

Hilary Armstrong
Directing Attorney

Marlene Bennett
Supervising Attorney
 

Taylor Campion
Staff Attorney

Hagar Dickman
Staff Attorney

Steve Hernandez
Contracts Coordinator
 

Anuja Kumaria
Staff Attorney

Denise Miller
Staff Attorney

Melissa Morris
Supervising Attorney
 

Becky Moskowitz
Senior Attorney
   

Contact HLS

Intake line: (408) 293-3135

Address: Health Legal Services
Law Foundation of Silicon Valley
152 North Third Street, 3rd Floor
San Jose, CA 95112

Map: Click here

Fax: (408) 350-1158

E-Mail: Send E-Mail

HLS Eligibility

Any low income person (400% of federal poverty guideline or below) living with HIV/AIDS and/or diabetes in Santa Clara County may be eligible for HLS services.

Please contact HLS to find out if we can help you. If HLS is unable to help you, we may be able to suggest other useful resources.

Please note that HLS has limited staff and resources to serve clients. Unfortunately, we cannot represent every client who has a meritorious legal case. The delivery of services in a priority case will be dependent upon case acceptance guidelines, the availability of services from other sources, financial resources and available staff, which may vary from time to time.