Katie Bruck

  • Hosted by The Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School
  • Sponsored by Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP
  • Service location Boston, Massachusetts
  • Law school Harvard Law School
  • Issue area Veterans' Rights
  • Fellowship class year 2020
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Katie’s project increases access to public benefits for low-income veterans with disabilities through representation in public benefits hearings and the provision of estate planning services that preserve benefits eligibility.

Veterans with disabilities, which are often service-connected, suffer higher rates of poverty, food insecurity, unemployment, and homelessness than the general population, making their access to both civilian and veterans benefits all the more crucial. Additionally, low-income veterans with even modest assets can lose their eligibility for benefits without appropriate legal protections. Despite the importance of benefits-conscious estate planning in allowing this population to maintain their livelihood, these services are largely inaccessible.

Fellowship Highlights to Date

In the first twelve months, Katie has:

  • Provided full representation to 15 clients in estate planning and public benefits matters
  • Launched community outreach efforts that include contacting local veterans and disability service providers and distributing flyers to increase awareness and reach new potential clients
  • Established a partnership with a local veterans’ non-profit, including an educational presentation to staff members and establishment of protocols for client referrals and a partnership with the public library system to conduct educational presentations and outreach aimed at veterans
  • Engaged in administrative advocacy targeted at state Medicaid regulatory reform

Next Steps

In the next six months, Katie plans to:

  • Provide individual representation to more veterans with disabilities
  • Expand community partnerships to facilitate outreach and provide educational presentations
  • Draft a national advocacy guide on benefits-conscious estate planning
  • Increase project’s impact by continuing community outreach efforts and engaging pro bono attorneys

Veterans with disabilities are too often forgotten by the government for which they sacrificed their health and safety.

Katie Bruck /
2020 Equal Justice Works Fellow

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