Maiffn Area

Policy Matters – September 2023

Posted on September 27th, 2023

Welcome to the September edition of our newsletter, Policy Matters. This edition includes testimony to the Chief Judge on civil legal needs and the justice gap, a discussion on the abysmally low shelter allowance, the family violence option for DV survivors, reforming the notarization process, allowing SSI recipients to save, our police reform project, tackling child poverty, the latest on Fair Hearing Help NY, a domestic violence legislative update, our President & CEO honored, and professional opportunities at Empire Justice Center.

Read the full newsletter here: Policy Matters – September 2023

Policy Matters - September 2023

Policy Matters – August 2023

Posted on August 31st, 2023

Welcome to the August edition of our newsletter, Policy Matters. In this edition we cover the release of our new shelter allowance report, letters of support for housing and public benefits bills, the latest from our police reform project, a conference on victims’ services, and upcoming staff recognition.

Read the full newsletter here: Policy Matters – August 2023

Policy Matters - August 2023

Applications Open for 2024-26 Hanna S. Cohn Equal Justice Fellowship

Posted on August 23rd, 2023

PRESS RELEASE: Applications Being Accepted for Hanna S. Cohn Equal Justice Fellowship

Disability Law News- July 2023

Posted on August 8th, 2023

The Disability Law News is a quarterly newsletter published for DAP Advocates. This July 2023 Edition issue will cover the White House’s recent announcement of Martin O’Malley as its nominee for Commissioner of Social Security; a guide published by the Social Security Administration (SSA) regarding evidence of Long COVID; a change to the Appeals Council’s timeframe for reviewing appeals; improvements to the CDR process; new listings for skin and digestive disorders; a Second Circuit summary order and AC remand for a conflict with the D.O.T.; an overview of recent comments by advocates in response to SSA’s proposed rules and other requests for information; recent Disability Advocacy Program (DAP) retirements and an interview with long-time DAP advocate, Peter Racette; an update about ERAP; and an updated Bulletin Board.

Access the July 2023 Disability Law News newsletter.

To subscribe to future Disability Law News issues, please contact Maia Younes at myounes@empirejustice.org. 

We hope you enjoy this new design and find it easy to navigate.

Policy Matters – July 2023

Posted on July 31st, 2023

Welcome to the July edition of our newsletter, Policy Matters. This edition includes action towards language justice in Long Island, the latest from our Police Reform Project, information on the need for comprehensive right to counsel for divorce, and staff recognition for service to LGBTQ communities of color.

Read the full newsletter here: Policy Matters – July 2023

Policy Matters July 2023

PRESS RELEASE: Legal Aid, Empire Justice, NYLAG Launch “Fair Hearing Help NY” Website

Posted on June 20th, 2023

For Immediate Release: June 20, 2023


The Legal Aid Society: Alejandra LopezPreview Changes (opens in a new tab)
Empire Justice Center: Alex Dery Snider
New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG): Nadia Khasawneh


Read as a PDF


Legal Aid, Empire Justice, NYLAG Launch “Fair Hearing Help NY”

New Website Offers Free Legal Resources for New Yorkers Navigating Government Benefit Hearings

(NEW YORK, NY) – The Legal Aid Society, Empire Justice Center, and New York Legal Assistance Group, in partnership with Columbia Law School’s Lawyering in the Digital Age Clinic, have launched Fair Hearing Help NY, a free, virtual legal resource for New Yorkers who are representing themselves at an administrative hearing with the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA). When an individual’s benefits — such as SNAP benefits — are reduced, discontinued, or their application is denied, they can request a Fair Hearing. A Fair Hearing allows the individual to make their case and the agency will review the decision. However, this is a legal process, and it can be intimidating for many individuals.


According to OTDA’s Annual Report, 155,662 hearings were requested in New York State in 2022 (123,990 in New York City alone). Ninety-seven percent of Appellants are not represented by counsel.
The new website will help New Yorkers who are representing themselves in a Fair Hearing navigate the complex process of administrative hearings and offer information that will allow them to more fully participate in their Fair Hearings and exercise their due process rights.


“We are proud to launch Fair Hearing Help NY with our partners to help thousands of low-income New Yorkers maintain the life-sustaining benefits to which they are entitled,” said Anne Callagy, citywide director of the Government Benefits Practice at The Legal Aid Society. “When a family’s benefits are wrongfully reduced or terminated, they are forced to make impossible decisions, like whether to put food on the table or pay rent. The new website will equip New Yorkers with the tools to help them keep their benefits.”


“For New Yorkers representing themselves in Fair Hearings, having access to the information and resources that will allow them to fight for their benefits is essential,” said Marta Mychak, coordinating attorney in the Public Benefits Unit at New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG). “Fair Hearing Help NY will help to level the playing field during these hearings so that more New Yorkers can keep their benefits to feed their children, stay in their homes, and more. We are thrilled to launch this website to empower more New Yorkers with tools they need to assert their rights.”


“Fair hearings are the only recourse for New Yorkers whose benefits have been unfairly reduced or denied,” said Susan Antos, Managing Attorney of the Benefits practice at Empire Justice Center. “However, Fair Hearings are fundamentally a legal process. The new Fair Hearing Help NY website will walk people through the process so they understand the procedural rules and are more likely to be successful. This will mean the difference between people being able to access basic necessities – like food for their families, shelter, access to medical care – or not.”


Individuals can request a hearing online, by mail, by telephone or by fax, and once a hearing is scheduled, they will be able to explain why they think a decision about their case made by a local social services agency is wrong. OTDA will then issue a written decision which will state whether the local agency’s decision was right or wrong. The written decision may order the local agency to reverse its prior determination, and restore an individual’s benefits.


Fair Hearing Help NY can be accessed at http://fairhearinghelpny.org/




The Legal Aid Society exists for one simple yet powerful reason: to ensure that New Yorkers are not denied their right to equal justice because of poverty. For over 145 years, we have protected, defended, and advocated for those who have struggled in silence for far too long. Every day, in every borough, The Legal Aid Society changes the lives of our clients and helps improve our communities. www.legalaidnyc.org

Founded in 1990, New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG) is a leading civil legal services organization combating economic, racial, and social injustice by advocating for people experiencing poverty or in crisis. NYLAG exists because wealth should not determine who achieves justice. Our services impacted the lives of 113,000 people last year. www.nylag.org

Empire Justice Center is a statewide nonprofit law firm whose mission is to make the law work for all New Yorkers, particularly for those who need its protection most. We take a 360-degree, comprehensive approach to changing systems by engaging in three major and interconnected areas of service. We teach the law by providing training, support and technical assistance to legal services and other community-based organizations; we practice the law by providing
direct, civil legal assistance to low-income people with a particular focus on those from marginalized communities; and we change the law by engaging in policy analysis, research and advocacy and undertaking impact litigation to get at the root of systemic issues.

STATEMENT: Highlights of the 2023 Legislative Session

Posted on June 13th, 2023

With the end of the official legislative session, Empire Justice Center shared an overview of highlights of the work achieved, and the work still to be completed.

Read full statement here: Empire Justice Center Issues Highlights of the 2023 Legislative Session

Empire Justice logo on a red background

“What Lawyers Can Do When Pet Abuse and Domestic Violence Intersect,” Article Written by Amy Bogardus of Empire Justice Center, Featured in New York State Bar Association’s Journal

Posted on June 12th, 2023

“What lawyers can do When Pet Abuse and Domestic Violence Intersect,” an article featured in New York State Bar Association’s May- June Journal (pages 46-51)  is a compelling piece written by Amy Molloy Bogardus, Empire Justice Center’s Regional Attorney Coordinator, Crime Victims Legal Network (CVLN) Program. It addresses the intersection of DV and animal abuse with tips for practitioners on how to recognize and respond to this issue.

Read Article as a PDF

Access on New York State Bar Association’s website if you have a subscription.

Resident Rights Advocacy Initiative: We Want to Hear from You!

Posted on May 9th, 2023

In partnership with the Center for Elder Law & Justice, and through funding made available by the NY Health Foundation, Empire Justice Center is pleased to announce the update and expansion of the nursing home resident rights resource guide to cover 14 counties from WNY into the Finger Lakes region.


As part of the project, we want to hear from communities who have ha d personal experiences with nursing homes – including residents, family members, and advocates. By drawing on your individual experiences, we hope to cultivate a valuable pool of knowledge that will result in a more comprehensive resident rights resource guide.

Click here to take our short survey to help us identify issues for nursing home residents, create educational materials, and advocate for change.

The questions within this survey are for information gathering purposes only. The information and your responses do not constitute an attorney-client relationship or legal advice.


Download the Flyer

Important Notice for Individuals with Disabilities Who Are Applying for or Trying to Keep Public Benefits in Suffolk County

Posted on August 10th, 2022

Notice of Proposed Class Action Settlement Regarding Disability Accommodations at the Suffolk County Department of Social Services.

Attorneys from the Empire Justice Center, the National Center for Law and Economic Justice (NCLEJ) and Dentons LLP obtained class certification and a settlement in a Federal Court class action case called Newkirk v. Pierre, 19-cv-4283 (E.D.N.Y.). Plaintiffs in this lawsuit are individuals with disabilities who need help applying for or trying to keep public benefits through programs run by the Suffolk County Department of Social Services (SCDSS).

This is an important notice about accessing Public Benefits and a proposed Settlement in a Federal Court class action case. Please read the entire notice provided in the links below if:

  1. You are an individual with a disability living in Suffolk County, New York; AND
  2. You have applied for or will apply for benefits and services from SCDSS, including SNAP (food stamps), Medicaid, Temporary Assistance, and Temporary Housing Assistance (THA); AND
  3. Because of your disability, you need help applying for or keeping those benefits and services.


Audio Recording of Notice


Members of the Plaintiff Class who are deaf or hard of hearing and require interpreter services to participate in the Fairness Hearing with the Court on September 6, 2022, should contact the National Center for Law and Economic Justice at info@nclej.org, or (212) 633-6967, in advance of the hearing.

Press Release Announcement