In addition to providing General Support funding for legal services programs, MLAC funds three projects, which are run by the staff of legal services programs in local offices around the state:
Domestic Violence Legal Assistance Project
The Domestic Violence Legal Assistance Project* (DVLAP) offers comprehensive civil legal assistance to victims of domestic violence to help them rebuild their lives safe from abuse. DVLAP advocates handle complex family law cases, including child custody and visitation, paternity, child support enforcement and divorce. They also assist people facing domestic violence with other legal issues arising from abuse, such as securing housing, health coverage and domestic violence-based immigration status. In FY16, the Domestic Violence Legal Assistance Project assisted 2,006 domestic violence victims.
*DVLAP was previously known as the Battered Women’s Legal Assistance Project.
The following legal services programs provide DVLAP services:
The Disability Benefits Project (DBP) was created by the Legislature in 1984 to provide legal assistance to low-income Massachusetts residents who have been wrongfully denied federal disability benefits or who have had their benefits unfairly reduced or terminated by the Social Security Administration. In FY16, DBP closed 740 cases, winning federal SSI/SSDI benefits for clients in 78 percent of cases in which a decision was made. The project brought $240,993 in direct federal reimbursement to Massachusetts as well as $4.4 million in payments to clients over just the first year of benefits. In addition to offering assistance in individual cases, DBP advocates provide training for consumers, social service workers and the private bar. DBP advocates have significant expertise in Social Security disability matters and have conducted trainings throughout the state and the country.
The following legal services programs provide DBP services:
The Medicare Advocacy Project (MAP) operates from legal aid offices across the Commonwealth, assisting elders and persons with disabilities in obtaining the Medicare and Medicare-related health insurance coverage to which they are entitled. MAP advocates represent Medicare beneficiaries with individual issues and in groups to address policy issues. In FY16, MAP represented 402 Massachusetts elders and people with disabilities.
The following legal services programs provide MAP services: