Welcome to Emilia Sicilia, who started as one of the DAP Statewide Coordinators this month. Emilia replaces Louise Tarantino, who retired in July. Emilia is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin Law School. She has been a DAP advocate at the Urban Justice Center in NYC since 2006, serving as Director of Disability Benefits Advocacy since 2012. She is well-known to the DAP community, having served as a trainer at various Partnership Conferences and other events.
Emilia comes to the Empire Justice Center with substantial litigation experience, in both individual claims and impact cases. She is currently co-counsel in Amin v. Colvin, a lawsuit pending against the Social Security Administration for its failure to docket non-disability appeals. She worked on the successful Padro litigation, a class action against SSA for systematic denial of due process. And she worked with co-counsel on Martinez v. Astrue, a national class action against SSA for automatically denying and suspending benefits based only on a warrant. She also has invaluable experience advocating with SSA, including on issues involving SSA’s evaluation of trauma in disability claims.
Emilia will work out of the Yonkers office of the Empire Justice Center. She joins Statewide Coordinator Kate Callery of the Rochester office of the Empire Justice Center and NYC Coordinator Ann Biddle of LSNYC and the Urban Justice Center.
So just what do these DAP Coordinators do?
In short, they are here to help DAP advocates! Among other things, they provide legal education and substantive law training on Social Security law to the NYS DAP community through regional task force meetings and specialized trainings. Upcoming Task Forces meetings around the state are already planned for November and December with CLEs on Appeals. And several state-wide virtual meetings and webinars are in the works, including a CLE presentation December 2nd by Ann and Emilia in New York City on ALJ Bias that will broadcast to other sites around the state. Kate, Emilia, and Ann will also be updating the basic training “videos.” Like the on-line trainings currently on the WNYLC On-line Resource Center, these sessions will be available on demand for new advocates to view at their desks and in their own time.
The coordinators keep NYS DAP advocates up-to-date on changes in Social Security laws, rules and regulations through the quarterly Disability Law News; responding to requests for information posted on the DAP Listserv and received from individual advocates; and building, organizing, and keeping current several web-based resources, including a comprehensive web site as well as specialized web resources for DAP staff. They are in the process of reviewing all these platforms, so look for some surveys coming your way.
The DAP coordinators also represent individual Social Security disability claimants in the federal courts and undertake impact litigation. They are available to help DAP advocates with appeals, either by co-counseling, editing memos, or taking over appeals that programs are unable to handle. And, they are here to review and consult on any cases that advocates are considering appealing, especially to the Second Circuit.
Kate, Emilia, and Ann undertake legislative and administrative advocacy aimed at improving access to justice and maintaining DAP funding. And of course they nag DAP contractors for all case closing data and provide both the contractors and OTDA with timely quarterly reports.
Reach out to Kate, Emilia, and Ann with your questions, thoughts, and suggestions:
Kate – email@example.com; 585-295-5727
Emilia – firstname.lastname@example.org; 914-595-0910 Ext. 104
Ann- email@example.com; 347-592-2214