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OFF-KILTER with Rebecca Vallas

Oct 19, 2023

For this week’s episode of Off-Kilter, Rebecca sat down with Jen Burdick, supervising attorney of the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) unit at Community Legal Services (CLS), Rebecca’s legal aid alma mater. They had a far ranging conversation about how “eligibility doesn’t equal access” and other lessons Jen has learned throughout her years as a public benefits lawyer; the human consequences of a decade-plus of defunding the Social Security Administration, from years-long backlogs in disability cases to overpayments that wreak havoc in beneficiaries’ lives; how Jen combines her client representation with policy advocacy and why the perspective of direct service providers like legal aid lawyers is so valuable to shaping public policy and legislative reform; how outdated policies like outdated asset limits lead to inhumane surveillance of poor people’s finances; the toxicity of the collective limiting belief that poor families aren’t to be trusted with their own money, and how that shows up in the SSI program, through “dedicated accounts” that restrict how families are able to spend their benefits; and lots more.


Links from this episode: