Public Benefits

ICLC seeks to combat homelessness by helping clients gain access to public benefits specifically designed to support them. Our public benefits teams help eligible homeless and low-income clients living with disabilities apply for the benefits to which they are entitled.

Many assistance programs for those living with disabilities have complex eligibility rules and burdensome reporting requirements which make them difficult for people to access. ICLC attorneys provide free services to help their clients navigate these complexities.

Countywide Benefits Entitlement Services Team (CBEST), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

From 2009-2012, Los Angeles’ Department of Health Services implemented the Benefits Entitlement Services Team (BEST) as a small-scale effort to test the impact of a team whose mission was to support and assist clients in applying for disability benefits. Ultimately producing higher approval rates and lower processing time than national averages, BEST was a huge success.

As a result of this outcome, with the support of Measure H funds, the Countywide Benefits Entitlement Services Team or CBEST was implemented in 2017 to expand the BEST program and help homeless clients with disabilities apply for federal and state disability benefits. These benefits include Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), and Cash Assistance Program for Immigrants (CAPI).

Each of these programs has slightly different eligibility requirements which can be difficult to navigate without proper training and background. The CBEST team at ICLC provides technical support and training to CBEST benefits advocates at nine partner agencies across Los Angeles County so that the advocates can directly assist clients in applying for disability benefits. The CBEST team also represents clients in appeals hearings to challenge incorrect denials of CAPI benefits and in appealing SSI or SSDI denials for clients who are not on General Relief.

ICLC has three other teams whose specialties also include public benefits.

ICLC’s Homeless Veterans Project helps veterans obtain disability benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs. More information can be found here.

ICLC provides assistance with a wide array of benefits to clients who are HIV positive or living with AIDS. More information can be found here.

The Lawyers Preventing and Ending Homelessness (PEHP) team assists clients who are homeless or at risk of homelessness with gaining access to public benefits.

For more information about how you can help with these projects, please visit our Get Involved page or contact our director of pro bono at probono@innercitylaw.org. For more information about how Inner City Law Center can help you, please visit our Get Help page.