LAF’s community is made up of amazing people, including amazing volunteers like Stanley Birnbaum, a member of the Public Benefits Practice Group. Stan has been volunteering with LAF for 4 years this coming January. When he retired from the Social Security Administration, Stan couldn’t just sit on his wealth of experience knowing there were people that needed it, so he’s now an invaluable social security resource at LAF.
“It keeps my brain going. It’s never boring, even when I was doing it for 35 years, I was never bored. Every case is really different.”
In Stan’s line of work, the difference truly is in the details. When people who have been wrongfully denied benefits come to LAF for help, he combs through their records, looking for technical issues and medical evidence so he can pinpoint exactly what’s wrong and how it limits the person’s ability to work. It could be a matter of one test – potentially small, but evidence enough to get the client’s much needed benefits back.
“There’s lots of new forms to make it all clean and pretty,” he notes, “but it doesn’t make it right, even if it’s written down neatly.”
He recalls a 9-year-old boy with a heart that didn’t pump on one side. After a series of extensive surgeries, the Social Security Administration told him he was medically improved, and ceased his benefits. Working with attorneys at LAF, Stan helped to reinstate those benefits. “It’s like nobody looked at the whole case,” Stan remembers. “He’d had 7 surgeries and was 9 years old.”
Social justice work is hard, but Stan shows us that – for some inspiring people – it’s not something you can quit. We are grateful to have a volunteer like Stan, with his knowledge and eye for detail, helping us ensure equal justice and that some of our most vulnerable clients don’t get lost in bureaucratic time.
If you are interested in volunteering with LAF, you can learn more about our Pro Bono Opportunities here.