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  ROD´S STORY   Health Legal Services (HLS) helped an HIV-positive client with a complicated government benefits issue relating to his attempts to return to work. Due to the cyclical nature of HIV disease, the client was unable to sustain work for longer than a few months at a time and had to depend on his Social Security disability benefits to meet his basic needs. The client was wrongfully charged a large overpayment and his benefits were terminated. HLS advocated for the client’s reinstatement and negotiated a significant reduction to the overpayment with a $10 monthly payment plan.

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Health Legal Services

(formerly AIDS Legal Services and The Diabetes Law Collaborative)

AIDS Legal Services (ALS) was founded in 1988 to respond to the critical need for legal assistance for people with HIV and AIDS who would otherwise go without representation in the legal system.   In March 2009, ALS and Santa Clara Valley Medical Center launched a new program to serve the legal needs of low-income residents living with diabetes: The Diabetes Law Collaborative (DLC) at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center.  DLC grew out of the Law Foundation’s 2007 strategic plan, whereby ALS decided to expand its model of providing free, holistic legal services for low-income individuals living with HIV/AIDS to also include those living with other chronic illnesses such as diabetes.  To reflect this expansion of its focus, ALS has changed its name to Health Legal Services (HLS) as of November 2009.  Health Legal Services remains steadfast in its commitment to the rights of persons living with HIV/AIDS while expanding strategically to serve other populations in need. 


HLS provides free legal assistance to eligible clients in the following areas:


Public and Private Benefits and Insurance: federal and state disability programs, private long-term disability, Medi-Cal, Medicare, and COBRA.

Housing Rights: landlord-tenant disputes, evictions, habitability problems, and discrimination in housing.

Discrimination: differential treatment against individuals based on their HIV/AIDS or diabetes status or other protected classes, and reasonable accommodations.

Employment Rights: claims for unpaid wages, unemployment insurance benefits, and discrimination in employment.

Estate Planning and Wills: simple wills, advanced health care directives (living wills), financial powers of attorney, and guardianships.

Debtor Relief: advice regarding creditor harassment and other issues.


Other Services: as appropriate.

Education and Outreach: HLS provides community outreach and education to low income individuals living with HIV/AIDS or diabetes in the community.  HLS also conducts legal rights workshops and provides technical assistance to social and medical service providers, government agencies and attorneys.  Additionally, HLS works closely with safety net medical providers and other community organizations in order to further serve the needs of our clients.

Updated: 2/2010


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