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 will increase 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 disabilitieswhich are often serviceconnected, 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. Additionallylow-income veterans with even modest assets can lose their eligibility for benefits like estate planning 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. This project seeks to fill this gap by providing legal services to low-income veterans with disabilities who are at risk of losing their livelihood. 

Katie’s underlying passion for disability rights stems from her experience of having close family members with mental disabilities, and her previous work with veterans taught her about the unique barriers that veterans with disabilities face. The inability of many veterans to access essential benefits is one of the most troubling examples of how we fail to protect the rights and livelihoods of people with disabilities, and Katie seeks to address this injustice.   

Fellowship Plans

Katie will address the needs of low-income veterans with disabilities in three ways. First, she will provide direct representation in the administrative hearings and litigation necessary to allow her clients to access the benefits to which they are entitled. Second, she will utilize benefits-conscious estate planning tools, such as special needs trusts and Medicaid planning trusts, to preserve veterans’ eligibility for benefits programs. Finally, she will create a comprehensive advocacy guide on benefits-conscious estate planning for export to other legal services organizations.

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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