HeLP Clinic Students Score Two Big Disability Wins
Ryan Behndleman (J.D. ’16) and Ryan Bozarth (J.D. ’16), won two Social Security disability cases for their clients, two children with significant medical disabilities, in the fall while working with the Georgia State Law Heath Law Partnership Clinic. Both children were previously denied disability benefits.
Their first case involved a toddler born with a genetic condition that resulted in deformities of his hands and bones. The child endured a complicated series of surgeries and even had a metal apparatus attached on the outside of his arm. The judge awarded disability benefits based on the brief that Behndleman and Bozarth filed on behalf of their client.
“It was amazing to be able to help a family that you know deserved to be receiving benefits.” Behndleman said. “Being able to win solely based on something that we wrote was really satisfying as well.”
The second case involved a 2-year-old girl with sickle cell disease. In her short life, this child has been rushed to the emergency room several times for fevers and pain crises associated with her disease.
Upon receiving the case, Behndleman and Bozarth discovered they had a short amount of time to prepare for a hearing to decide whether the child received benefits. The two prepared diligently and presented their client’s case to an administrative law judge during finals. The client was granted several thousand dollars of back payments, dating from the original application for disability, as well as an award of future monthly disability benefits.
“It was such an honor to build a relationship with this client,” Bozarth said. “This victory was really satisfying because we knew how important these benefits were to her family. We knew that she legally deserved them.”
The HeLP Clinic allows law students to learn lawyering skills while representing real clients. It was Behndleman’s second time in the clinic and Bozarth’s first.
In Behndleman’s previous semester, he represented a client at a hearing and won benefits for that client. Bozarth brought his litigation talents to the partnership after spending the summer successfully defending clients at the Dekalb County Public Defender’s Office. Both students agree the experience afforded to them in the HeLP Clinic was invaluable, and has made them better attorneys.
“Not only did we have a chance to help people who could not have afforded legal representation, but we have learned so much about real world lawyering,” Behndleman said. “I recommend this clinic to every law student. You cannot find a better experience.”
“I imagine a lot of students go to law school because they want to help people in need. The HeLP clinic gives students a chance to make a real difference in the lives of people while still in school,” Bozarth said.