Equal Access to Justice Could be Cut Away for People with Disabilities
People with disabilities could lose out on their right to legal representation if Congress suspends attorney fees paid through the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA) as a means to save federal budget dollars.
What is EAJA?
EAJA is a law that gives people who cannot afford an attorney the opportunity to get professional representation to help them get what they deserve from federal agencies. The federal government, in turn, pays the attorney a set percentage for their services.
Because of this law, low-income veterans can sue the Department of Veterans Affairs for denying them disability compensation. And Social Security disability claimants who are out of work because of illness, can take their case to a federal district court and sue for benefits they were denied.
Harder to Fight the System
However, Amendment 195, which was voted into the package of budget cuts that Congress is currently battling, would impose a seven-month freeze on legal fees paid to attorneys. It is also unclear if the freeze could be extended, reduced or eventually eliminated. The hold on payments to attorneys could make it harder, if not impossible, for veterans and Social Security claimants to find the legal representation they need to fight the system for benefits.
In a recent POLITICO article, Nancy Shor, executive director of the National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives (NOSSCR) said, “Over the past 30 years, EAJA has leveled the playing field for claimants by ensuring the availability of counsel. We oppose this amendment because it would so unfairly turn Social Security and veterans claimants away from the federal court system.”
Justice for All
Freedom Disability and its sister company Alpha Veterans Disability supports people with disabilities by providing quality representation services to win the disability benefits they deserve from the Social Security Administration and the Veterans Administration. We believe everyone is entitled to equal access to justice. That is what the Equal Access to Justice Act was established to provide.
Note: All representation coordinated by Alpha is provided by our employees, the Advocates, who are accredited by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). No private organization that trains and employs accredited agents has been legally recognized by the VA for the purposes of preparation, presentation, and prosecution of claims. This work must be done by the Advocates themselves and not organizations.