SCOTUS Affordable Care Act Ruling Benefits Thousands in Mecklenburg County

ACA updateThe recent King v. Burwell decision in the Supreme Court of the U.S. has affirmed to more than 458,000 North Carolinians, many of whom reside in Mecklenburg County and signed up with the help of a Legal Services of Southern Piedmont Navigator, that they will continue receiving financial help to afford their coverage through the ACA Health Insurance Marketplace. This is critical because 93% of N.C.’s marketplace enrollees get financial help to purchase health coverage with an average tax credit of $300 a month.

“The decision is a victory for thousands in our community who finally have access to quality health coverage because of the ACA and can now be assured that they will continue to have the opportunity to access affordable coverage with ongoing financial help,” LSSP staff attorney and Navigator Madison Hardee says. “Now we can focus on helping even more North Carolinians understand their options and access health care. At LSSP, we recognize that many of the most vulnerable in our community are still without health insurance, and we will continue to push for the expansion of Medicaid.”

 

LSSP Navigators provide free, unbiased advice to the residents of Mecklenburg County, helping families and individuals choose plans that are best for them within the health insurance marketplace implemented under the Affordable Care Act.
To schedule an appointment with a local Navigator, please contact the statewide appointment hotline at 1-855-733-3711.

 

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Summer Clerks & Interns 2015

 

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We recently welcomed a great group of summer clerks and interns into the LSSP office. We’re so glad to have them!

From left to right:
– Itané Coleman of UNC Greensboro
– Melodie Pellot-Hernández of UNC School of Law
– Correll Kennedy of Wake Forest University School of Law
– Kristin Smith of Wake Forest University School of Law
– Ivana Hughes of The University of Alabama School of Law
– Abigail Henderson of UNC School of Law

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Memorial Day 2015

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This Memorial Day, we celebrate the victory of a LSSP client, the widow of a WWII veteran, who was recently awarded the recognition that her husband’s sacrifice had honorably earned.

Mr. Adams* was a WWII Army veteran when he married Mrs. Adams. Though he spoke very little about his time in the war, Mrs. Adams knew he had once served in Japan. At the age of 66, Mr. Adams died after a yearlong struggle against stomach cancer. Years later, Mrs. Adams learned about LSSP’s Veterans Legal Services Project and asked for help in finding out more about her husband’s service. Her attorney at LSSP wondered if Mr. Adams had been among the more than 150,000 “atomic veterans” who had experienced high levels of radiogenic exposure while serving in Japan. However, his records had been destroyed in a fire at the National Personnel Records Center, so his service location was not apparent. After much investigation, research and correspondence with the VA, the LSSP attorney discovered that Mr. Adams had in fact served in a high radiation area in Japan soon after the atomic bomb was dropped, and his cancer was among the types recognized as service-related. Because of this discovery, Mr. Adams’ sacrifice to his country was finally recognized and Mrs. Adams is now receiving the widow’s benefits for which she had been eligible for more than two decades.

Our gratitude and respect goes out to our country’s service members and veterans for the sacrifices they have made.

Learn more about LSSP’s Veterans Legal Services Project.

*Name has been changed to protect identity

 

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National Volunteer Week 2015

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National Volunteer Week is April 12-18, 2015, and we are grateful to have the opportunity to recognize some of our current and recent volunteers who have helped us out in a variety of ways this year, like serving as volunteer Health Insurance Marketplace Navigators, volunteering as interpreter/translators for clients, helping our growing Safe Child Immigrant Project with administrative tasks and more! We are so thankful for our generous and dedicated volunteers! Below are some of the volunteers who have been a great help to us recently. From our entire LSSP staff, thank you to all of our volunteers!

Health Insurance Marketplace Navigator Volunteers

Kriss Anne Carlstrom

Emily Sigmon

Lori-Ann Green

Lauren Greth

Janet Hudson

Nicholas Loveluck

Fred Saxine

John Scherr

Mary Allen Watson

Immigrant Justice Program Volunteers

Daniela Jaramillo Aguirre

Luz Aveleyra

Karen Jimenez

Melissa Li Voti

Arthur Minasyan

Megan Mintac

Blanca Rivas

Volunteer Interpreter/Translators

Rosalinda Disch

Gelianny Esponda La Rosa

Aura Lawson-Alonso

Anita Matlock-Murphy

Yvonne Santiago

Monica Thomas

Michael Villalobos

 Pro Bono Program Volunteers

Chris Hsu

Anita Zarey

 

 

 

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2014 Pro Bono Honor Roll

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Our 2014 Pro Bono Honor Roll is up! Congratulations and thank you to all of our dedicated pro bono attorneys! Each of you has played a key role in helping LSSP and Legal Aid of North Carolina-Charlotte provide access to justice for people in need in our community.

View the Honor Roll here.

Learn how you can become involved in the Access to Justice Pro Bono Partners Program.

 

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Mayors Day of Recognition for National Service

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LSSP was honored to be a part of today’s Mayors Day of Recognition for National Service with the recognition of LSSP’s Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps justice Fellows at the event!

_MG_8329 copyMayor Dan Clodfelter spoke at the event, recognizing the AmeriCorps members in the Charlotte community: “Our city has benefited from your dedication. Share your work with others so that they come to know what you mean to Charlotte.”

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LSSP Safe Child Immigrant Project Fellow Atenas Burrola spoke at the event about the work of the Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps justice Fellows in helping unaccompanied children as they move through the Charlotte Immigration Court.

 

 

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Justice for All Luncheon 2015

Justice For All event

View more photos from the event here.

Local legal aid nonprofits Legal Services of Southern Piedmont (LSSP) and Legal Aid of North Carolina-Charlotte (LANC) hosted their ninth annual Justice for All Luncheon March 12, 2015 at The Westin Charlotte with keynote speaker Chief Justice of the N.C. Supreme Court  Mark Martin, chair of the N.C. Equal Access to Justice Commission, to highlight the need for and the work of ensuring access to justice for the Charlotte area’s low-income community.

More than 600 guests heard addresses by Martin and civil legal aid and local bar leaders, stressing the importance of serving low-income families and individuals whose basic human rights are threatened by their inability to pay for legal representation in civil legal matters. Attendees heard the stories of North Carolinians protected from violence, homelessness and chronic illness through the work of these organizations and their partners.

“Among the most pressing challenges facing our justice system today is the delivery of legal services to people of modest means,” Martin said at the event. “Unlike in criminal cases, there is no constitutional right to court-appointed counsel for indigent parties in civil cases. It is in these civil cases that legal aid programs play a vital role in providing legal services to individuals who otherwise would not be able to afford an attorney.”

LSSP’s legal work focuses on helping people in the Charlotte-area meet their basic human needs, ensuring that low-income children, families and the disabled have access to quality health care and benefits; preserving income and protecting financial stability of low-income families; and providing targeted legal assistance for people with special needs such as children, elderly and disabled persons, immigrants, veterans, and people living with HIV/AIDS.

LANC-Charlotte seeks to protect victims of domestic violence; help workers remove barriers to employment; preserve homes, automobiles and other essential properties that are subject to seizure and sale; and help tenants prevent homelessness by preventing unlawful evictions and helping them get necessary repairs for safe and habitable housing.

Sponsors for the event were Bank of America, Duke Energy and Hunton & Williams LLP.

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Free income tax preparation

 

Taxpayers:

It’s once again time to file your annual income tax return. However, don’t pay to have your taxes prepared – go to a VITA site instead! The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) programs provide FREE  income tax preparation for individuals and families who make less than $53,000 per year. These sites operate between February and mid-April at sites all over North Carolina. Inside this brochure is a list of sites that may be near you. If you do not live near any of these sites, call 1-800-906-9887 for a site closer to you.

Most sites also offer FREE electronic filing allowing you to get your refund within a few days to a few weeks. Don’t spend hundreds of dollars in fees for filing your tax return or getting an “instant refund” through a refund anticipation loan offered by many private tax preparation sites. Visit a VITA site and take advantage of their free services.

Even if you are not required to file a tax return, you should consider doing so. You may qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit* or the Child Tax Credit, each of which could be worth thousands of dollars this year!

Learn more about local VITA sites in Mecklenburg Couty and the surrounding counties below.

* You do NOT have to have children to qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit.

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Flyers courtesy of Community Link.

 

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Save the Date for the Justice for All Luncheon

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Please join us at the
2015 Justice for All Luncheon
as we share our story of providing justice for those in need in our community on
Thursday, March 12th, from 12 – 1 p.m. at The Westin Hotel with
keynote speaker The Honorable Mark Martin, Chief Justice of the N.C. Supreme Court and Chair of the NC Equal Access to Justice Commission.

Register to attend.

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IRS Free File

 

If you earned $60,000 or less last year, you can file your taxes for free using a brand-name tax software through IRS Free File. If you earned more than $60,000, you can use the Free File Fillable Forms on their website. Learn more about how to file for free at www.IRS.gov/freefile.

Here are some tips about IRS Free File:

  1. Go to IRS.gov/FreeFile.  The only way to use IRS Free File is through the IRS website. Once you choose a Free File company, you’ll go to their website to prepare and e-file your federal tax return.
  2. Find tax breaks. The question and answer format of tax software will help you find tax breaks. This could include tax credits, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit. The software selects the appropriate tax forms and does the calculations for you. Free File can help with the new health care law tax provisions as well.
  3. Free for all. If you made $60,000 or less you can use brand-name software. If you earned more, you can use Free File Fillable Forms. This option uses electronic versions of IRS paper forms. It is best for people who are used to doing their own taxes.
  4. Easy online extensions.  If you can’t finish your tax return by the April 15 deadline, it’s easy to use Free File to ask for a six-month extension. An extension of time to file is not an extension of time to pay. If you owe federal taxes, you need to estimate the amount and pay it with your request to avoid penalties and interest.

The IRS partners with 14 leading tax software companies, the Free File Alliance, to make this service available. Some companies offer free federal and free state returns. Choose your option on IRS.gov/freefile.

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