Three law students from the Health Law Partnership (HeLP) Legal Services Clinic won a court victory for a child with a disability this spring. An administrative law judge with the Social Security Administration ruled that the child had erroneously been denied supplemental security income (SSI) benefits.
Georgia State Law students Meagan Beatty (J.D. ’20), Ragan Morrison (J.D. ’19) and Laura Trejo (J.D. ’19) represented the child’s mother on appeal. In his favorable decision, the administrative law judge relied on the evidence and legal arguments highlighted in the brief the students had drafted.
“After winning the case, our client felt vindicated the family was finally receiving the benefits to which they were entitled,” said Jimmy Mitchell, HeLP clinical supervising attorney and adjunct instructor of law. “The law students were extremely proud that they had made a difference in the lives of this family.”
On this particular case, the child had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
“Working on a case for a child with this type of diagnosis presents a challenge for our students because, unlike a physical disability, such a condition cannot readily be seen by the eye,” Mitchell said. “In this case, the students needed to be creative and resourceful in order to demonstrate to the judge the severe challenges the child faces.”
In weighing the voluminous medical evidence, the law students were assisted by visiting medical students from Morehouse School of Medicine and Emory University School of Medicine. The law students also spoke with the child’s parents, counselors and therapists to develop signed affidavits to submit to the judge as evidence. The affidavits and support from the Morehouse and Emory medical students helped the law students create a strong case for the child.
“These cases are a culmination of everything we do in the HeLP clinic,” Mitchell said. “We are training the students to become good lawyers while also helping clients obtain the disability benefits they deserve.”