Used Van Gets in the Way of Deserved Benefits

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Dante’s eight-year-old daughter Mia has severe disabilities. Dante and his wife have been strong advocates for their child for her entire life, navigating the complex and confusing systems that provide public benefits. They love their daughter so much, and they want to do all they can to ensure she has the medical care and education to which she is entitled.

Dante works full-time, but the family still struggles and the SSI disability benefits Mia gets make a big difference. In the fall of 2016, Dante received a letter from Social Security stating that Mia’s SSI benefits were being terminated. Dante was shocked. He reached out to Mia’s social worker at California Children’s Services, and the social worker connected Dante to Legal Aid.

A Legal Aid attorney met with Dante and learned that Social Security cut off Mia’s benefits because Dante bought a used van so they could transport Mia in her wheelchair. With the old truck they already had, Social Security said the family’s vehicles were worth too much, causing them to exceed the SSI resource limit. The attorney believed Social Security was overvaluing the old truck and filed an appeal.

More than a year went by before the hearing was held. Dante and his family continued to struggle while fighting for their daughter’s rights. The attorney represented Dante and Mia at the hearing and successfully convinced the judge that the family’s truck was worth very little. The judge issued a fully favorable decision–Mia was entitled to SSI. Dante was extremely relieved and grateful that Legal Aid’s advocacy would help him and his wife take care of Mia. Donate today.


To protect client confidentiality, all client names have been changed.