By: Donna Southwell. Published by: Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation (MLAC). Published in January 2012.
The Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation (MLAC) assessed the economic benefit that legal aid services provided the state of Massachusetts during the 2011 financial year using data reported by grantees. MLAC estimated that the services performed resulted in at least $27,730,837 in new federal revenue coming into the Commonwealth and credits its grantees with winning an additional $25,486,914 in income and savings for clients and the Commonwealth, for a total of $53,217,751.
The study finds that legal services saved the state money in the following ways:
- The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) — Legal services helped Massachusetts residents secure over $6.6 million in SNAP benefits that they would not have had otherwise, secured at least $350,000 in federal reimbursements for organizations doing SNAP outreach, assisted elderly and disabled recipients apply for medical expense deductions increasing their benefits by $1,118,480, and secured for schools with students on free or reduced cost lunch plans an additional $457,050 in federal lunch funding.
- Medical Costs – Legal aid advocacy resulted in Massachusetts residents getting approved for $558,527 in Medicare coverage and a $125,000 expansion of federal reimbursements for autism behavioral training for children.
- Taxes – Advocates representing indigent clients in tax controversies secured over $75,000 in federal tax returns and reductions.
- Disability Benefits Project (DBP) – Advocacy by the DBP in client efforts to qualify for Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) yielded a total of $8.7 million in federal revenue, which had an estimated total economic impact of $17,418,584.
- Unemployment – Advocacy during appeals for denials of federal unemployment benefits resulted in $9,667,488 in federal revenue.
- Housing – By preventing evictions and foreclosures while preserving existing shelters, legal services saved the state approximately $11,251,027 in shelter costs.
- Domestic violence – By preventing domestic assaults, legal services saved the state at least $3,884,400 in medical costs.