Featured Practice Area: Veterans, Seniors, and Peoples with Disabilities

I feel very lucky to be the Practice Area Manager for Veterans, Seniors, and People with Disabilities. Ours is a dedicated and hardworking group.

Roger and Martin of the South Central Pension Rights Project can be seen glued to their screens and working late, ensuring their clients receive their fair share of earned pensions. With the inclusion of QDRO services, their monetary recoveries have gone through the roof. 

Tim, Hal, and Rush of Veterans Legal Assistance are constantly celebrating victories for discharge upgrades and helping our statewide veteran populations. They are happy to have added Don-Michael Barbour to their team, who has litigation experience and will be working with the Veteran's Courts. 

Norma, Sara, and Victor of the Legal Hotline continue to help those by phone and via trainings with issues involving Medicare, Medicaid, Public benefits, and a host of other topics. They are thrilled to have Daisy Perez back. 

At Transactional Legal Assistance, Claudia and I continue to prepare TODDs and Powers of Attorney for low-income Texans. We are very pleased to have recently added experienced attorney Mary Kay Sicola and paralegal Melissa Aguillar to the team to work with Michelle Wagoner in providing Expunctions and Occupational Drivers Licenses. 

 

The new members of our practice area have hit the ground running, and we hope to have them on the team for many years to come.

Sincerely,

Paul Zambie

 

South Central Pension Rights Project

By Roger Curme

On collaborating with other TLSC programs.

We collaborate with the Virtual Self-Help Center, Crime Victims Litigation, Legal Hotline for Texans, TexasLawHelp.org, and Impact Litigation on state court pension cases and QDROs/DROs. 

 

On something you'd like Team TLSC to know about your program. 

We have been handling a steady stream of state court pension cases about all over Texas non-stop since 2009. One of our current state court pension cases is a determination of heirship case in probate court to determine the surviving spouse for purposes of a pre-retirement survivor annuity under an ERISA Title IV single-employer union pension plan. 

 

We want to collaborate with the other projects, especially on state court pension cases, QDROs/DROs, and post-decree enforcement of marital property division of employer-sponsored pension and retirement savings plans. We come in with very high productivity (closed cases and dollar amount recoveries) as compared to the other regional pension counseling projects around the country. 

 

On another TLSC program that you admire. 

Veterans Legal Aid Project and Transactional Legal Assistance—both are case grinders with a strong old school work ethic. Don't have much information on the other TLSC projects. (We're trying to change that Roger, partially through exercises like this one!)

 

Transactional Legal Assistance

By Paul Zambie

On collaborating with other TLSC programs.

Transactional Legal Assistance (TLA) is partnering with the Virtual Self-Help Center (VSHC) by joining in on their remote family law clinics. These clinics encompass 18 very rural and very low-income counties where legal aid services are scarce. While Kristen Levin's group concentrates on family law matters, TLA attorneys Mary Kay Sicola and Michelle Wagoner will offer services regarding Expunction, Nondisclosures, and Occupational Drivers Licenses (ODLs). We will piggyback on Virtual Self-Help Center's marketing and established venues for the clinics. 

 

While our target clients are different from the ones that VSHC is attempting to reach, we believe that advertising for a broader range of services will garner crossover clients and increase overall clinic participation. The subject counties are Anderson, Childress, Erath, Frio, Gaines, Hardin, Hood, Jim Wells, Kerr, Llano Ochiltree, Pecos, Reeves, Titus, Uvalde, Washington, Wharton, and Young. While we are attempting to cobble together our own stable of contacts and referral sources, if anyone has any contacts within those rural counties, speak up and contact the team. 

 

On something you'd like Team TLSC to know about your program. 

We've been proud to offer services related to Transfer on Death Deeds, Durable Powers of Attorney, Occupational Drivers Licenses, Expunctions, and Nondisclosures.

 

Now, we get to offer the latter two services via the Virtual Clinics. We have two staff attorneys, Michelle Wagoner and Mary Kay Sicola, who each have special skill sets regarding ODLs and Expunctions. We also have two hardworking Spanish speaking paralegals, and we are happy to serve clients statewide for those at or below 125% of the federal poverty level. Come by and meet the team when you have a chance!

 

On another TLSC program that you admire. 

I am a big fan of the Crime Victims group. They hear tough stories and provide much-needed advice and services while, at times, placing themselves in peril. 

 

Veterans Legal Assistance Project

By Tim Gasaway

On collaborating with other TLSC programs.

Our team would like to collaborate with the Pension Project on Qualified Domestic Relationship Orders (QDRO’s). Over the past several months, we have had multiple clients who were concerned about the proper division of their military retirement following divorce.

 

On something you'd like Team TLSC to know about your program.

New funding has allowed us to revive the Veterans Treatment Court Program. Veterans Treatment Courts assist Veterans in resolving criminal matters. VLAP's program will assist treatment court participants with there civil legal problems with the goal of helping these veterans resolve any legal matter that might impact their ability to reintegrate into the civilian world.

 

On another TLSC program that you admire. 

All of the TLSC programs are amazing, but it's hard to miss the South Central Pensions Rights Project. The program consistently provides tremendous value to its clients and is staffed by bright, hardworking attorneys.

 

Legal Hotline for Texans

By Norma Baker

On collaborating with other TLSC programs.

We collaborate with Transaction Legal Assistance (TLA), South Central Pension Rights Project, and Crime Victims. A large part of what the Legal Hotline does is training Benefits Counselors of the Area Agencies on Aging throughout Texas.  They have been very excited to learn about TLAs Transfer on Death Deeds (TODDs)—especially in regard to how TODDs can impact Medicaid Estate Recovery.

 

On something you'd like Team TLSC to know about your program.

Our program mostly works with older adults and those under sixty years of age on their Medicare issues. Medicare is complicated—and has become more so since its inception in 1965.  We also offer legal advice and counsel for people on Medicaid questions—sometimes directly, and sometimes through our trainings for Benefits Counselors.

On average, long-term care costs $5,000 - $6,000 per month. The Hotline prepares Qualified Income Trusts for clients of the benefits counselors that allow individuals become income eligible to receive Medicaid to help cover some of the expenses.

 

On another TLSC program that you admire. 

Crime Victims and the things they do are incredible—especially regarding protective orders. To have in this building, the ability, the funding, and the talent to send someone out to obtain an instrument to protect a family is awe-inspiring.

The team that manages TexasLawHelp.org feels like the future. To have created, and then continue to perfect a virtual space where people can come to get answers is admirable.