Benefits Advocacy Project
Imagine having no income, living with a disability, and trying to survive on the streets. Many don’t make it – three people experiencing homelessness die on the streets of Los Angeles every day.
For low-income and homeless people living with disabilities, having access to public benefits can literally be the difference between life and death. But all too often people don’t receive the benefits they are entitled to and need to survive. Complex eligibility rules and confusing reporting requirements make assistance programs difficult to navigate. What’s more, people without homes may not have the documents they need, a mailing address, or a way to protect their paperwork during “clean-ups” of sidewalks and encampments.
Inner City Law Center’s Benefits Advocacy Project helps people navigate these complex programs so that they receive the benefits that they qualify for, and empowers them to act as their own advocates. We provide technical support and training to partner agencies across Los Angeles County. Our attorneys also represent clients in appellate cases where benefits applications were wrongfully denied.
Are you living with a disability and need public benefits?
Has your application for public benefits been wrongfully denied?
Countywide Benefits Entitlement Services Team (CBEST)
In 2009, Los Angeles County’s Department of Health Services implemented the Benefits Entitlement Services Team (BEST) to support and assist clients in applying for disability benefits. The program was a huge success and resulted in higher approval rates and lower processing times. Consequently, with support of Measure H funds, the program expanded into the Countywide Benefits Entitlement Services Team (CBEST) in 2017 to help homeless clients with disabilities apply for federal and state disability benefits, including:
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI),
- Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), and
- Cash Assistance Program for Immigrants (CAPI).
Each of these programs has different eligibility requirements, which can be difficult to navigate without proper training and background. ICLC’s CBEST team specializes in understanding each of these programs so that we can support our clients and train other organizations that offer similar services to the communities we serve.
Additional Benefits Support at ICLC
The Homeless Veterans Project helps veterans obtain disability benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The HIV/AIDS Legal Project provides assistance with a wide array of benefits to clients who are living with HIV or AIDS.
The Lawyers Preventing and Ending Homelessness team assists clients who are homeless or at risk of homelessness with gaining access to public benefits.