Theresa Brabson ’13 has been awarded a prestigious Independence
Foundation Fellowship. The Fellowship will fund her work with the
Legal Clinic for the Disabled (LCD) to expand PhilaKids, LCD’s
existing Medical-Legal Partnership (MLP) with St. Christopher’s
Hospital for Children.  There she will advocate, negotiate,
and litigate on behalf of low-income children to obtain and
maintain the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefit.

Medical-Legal Partnerships place lawyers in medical settings
where they can help patients address legal issues that impact their
physical health.  St. Christopher’s, where Philakids is
located, sits in one of the poorest congressional districts in the
country.  Brabson noted that in the context of such poverty,
“the wrongful denial or termination of SSI benefits can create a
domino effect that negatively impacts the health and well-being of
St. Christopher’s young patients and their families,” noting
further that “the SSI benefit is often a critical determinant of a
child’s access to basic necessities like healthcare, food, clothing
and shelter.”

In addition to directly representing clients, Brabson will also
be training healthcare providers on the procedural requirements
related to issues such as medical record-keeping and plans of care.
By working to ensure that healthcare providers know and understand
how to best advocate for their patients in SSI cases, she explains,
she will be able to be a better legal advocate.

Noting that she “came to Temple because I wanted to learn how to
use the law to promote social justice,” Brabson quickly found that
the work of LCD helped her advance that purpose every day. Also
helpful was the support of Temple Law administration and
faculty.  Brabson cited Director of Public Interest Programs
Maureen Olives and faculty members Lee Carpenter, Susan DeJarnatt,
and Ellie Margolis as particularly helpful throughout the
application process.