Legal Aid Chicago focuses on accessing and protecting benefits for basic human needs. Over 25% of Legal Aid Chicago’s clients are people with disabilities.

Richard was in his mid-thirties, working as an engineer, and earning a six-figure salary when friends began to notice a change. His personality went from social and cheerful to quiet and obscure. Richard began to withdraw from friends and family and his behavior became aggressive and volatile. After five years of deep social isolation, Richard’s sister was able to get him into a medical facility for treatment, where doctors discovered a brain tumor the size of an orange. By this time, he was living with no electricity, no savings, and his home was in foreclosure.

Doctors removed the tumor, but Richard was now suffering from debilitating headaches that required intensive cognitive therapy. Legal Aid Chicago represented Richard at his Social Security Disability Insurance hearing, where the Social Security Administration (SSA) concluded that although Richard was disabled, his disability began at the date of discovery. On Richard’s behalf, Legal Aid Chicago argued that his disability had impacted his life long before it was discovered. Richard’s neurologist backed this argument. On appeal, and under a federal judge, the SSA agreed that the tumor had had a detrimental effect on Richard’s life long before it was diagnosed. Thanks to Legal Aid Chicago’s advocacy, Richard received substantial back benefits and a monthly income that allowed him to fully focus on his recovery.