Who does ULS help?
ULS serves individuals and families whose incomes are within 125% of the federal poverty level and who have very limited assets. In 2012, to be eligible for the services, a one-person household must earn an amount just under $14,000 before taxes annually. This translates to around $28,000 for a family of four. Types of cases are shown below.
In 2011, we received over 18,000 individual requests for assistance, involving over 30,000 family members. Based on our priorities (Page 4) many were given legal information and referral, and we closed nearly 8,500 cases that included legal representation. About 7.5% of our cases are handled by volunteer “pro bono” attorneys (Page 5.) Our largest area of practice is family law involving domestic violence, followed by housing law, public benefits issues, consumer and employment law cases, as shown below:
But, beyond the numbers are the people:
...a 53-year-old disabled woman who could barely read or write and had been denied Social Security disability benefits. Her physical problems were not well documented because she could not afford medical consultations and evaluations, but she suffered from constant arthritis pain, headaches and dizzy spells. She had worked as a maid or laundress but was too weak to continue that work and her lack of education prevented her from doing more sedentary work. ULS represented her before an administrative law judge for the Social Security Administration, and she was awarded benefits which allowed her to obtain badly needed medical assistance.
...the deaf young man who had spent his childhood moving from foster home to foster home hoping for an adoptive family. His 12th foster family attended a ULS pro se clinic where the attorney, a foster parent himself and fluent in American Sign Language, helped them fill out the paperwork and directed them where to file. The adoption was finalized and the young man finally has a family to call his own.
...a family where the father had lost his job, was behind on the rent and eviction proceedings had begun. ULS negotiated an agreement to pay the back rent in monthly installments and from the income tax refund that was due, resolving the case.
...the 70-year old woman who paid off the real estate contract on her home only to find that the sellers had passed away and the estate had never been probated. ULS filed the appropriate action in court and secured a deed for her.
Other frequently asked questions about Utah Legal Services (ULS):
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