AARP Publishes SSDI Primer

AARP Policy & Research recently published Social Security Disability Insurance: A Primer.

This 24 page publication is available for free online.

Thanks to @shrivercenter for pointing us to this publication.


Not even Hurricane Katrina can keep SCLS down . . .


  • You work in the New Orleans school system for 30 years.
  • Like others, you pay into the Louisiana state retirement system in lieu of Social Security.
  • In the course of 3 years, each year you lose a loved one; 1st one adult son and the following year another adult son is killed in a fatal car wreck and the following year your husband passes away.
  • One year later, your home burns down. You move in with your sibling in New Orleans.
  • Then Hurricane Katrina hits. After 3 days, you’re rescued and then evacuated and resettled to Greenville.
  • One year later, you become very ill and are hospitalized for an extended period. You have no insurance and you start to get large medical bills.
  • Soon after, you’re hit with a social security overpayment and tax refund intercepts. The Social Security Administration ruled that client should NOT receive husband’s survivor’s benefits because of special circumstances related to the Louisiana state retirement program.

 If you think you would be filling pretty low right now, you’re perfectly normal.

 Sadly, this scenario really happened.

 Fortunately the widow in the fact pattern called South Carolina Legal Services. In September 2008, Beth Des Jardins filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition for the widow.  The purpose of the bankruptcy filing was to discharge: (1) the client’s huge medical debts, and (2) her social security disability overpayment. 


Can a social security overpayment like this be discharged as an unsecured debt in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy? After much research, consultation, and debate over other legal tactics, the in-house decision was that there was no clear consensus. Ms. Des Jardins pursued the Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition.


Earlier this month, at the creditors’ meeting the Chapter 7 trustee, Randy Skinner, declared this a ‘no assets’ case.

Congratulations to Beth Des Jardins and Maureen White, who filled in for Beth at the creditors’ meeting!


Speaking of Hunger, what about the Homeless?

A few weeks ago I wrote about Project H.E.L.P. and the attorney training scheduled for Friday, October 3rd. Here is an update from the apparently successful training.

Jeff Yungman, Director of Legal Services for the Homeless Project at Crisis Ministries in Charleston, started off the CLE with a general discussion of the issues that homeless clients face. 

Sue Berkowitz, Director of SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center, who talked about Benefits Law, including Temproary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Medicaid.  

Rita Roache, a Charleston attorney with South Carolina Legal Services, spoke about Family Law. 

Stacy Thompson, of Bluestein, Nichols, Thompson, & Delgado, spoke about Social Security Benefits and Claims. 

Approximately 40+ attorneys attended the training and there are volunteers booked through spring ’09. The first service event will be held in November.

Stay tuned . . . .