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 at the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School increased access to public benefits and estate planning services for low-income veterans with disabilities. This project focused on 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.

Katie’s work sought to address a gap in services facing veterans with disabilities, who suffer higher rates of poverty, food insecurity, unemployment, and homelessness than the general population, making their access to civilian and veteran benefits all the more crucial. Low-income individuals with even modest assets can lose their eligibility for benefits without appropriate legal protections, including estate planning. Despite the importance of benefits-conscious estate planning in allowing this population to maintain their livelihood, these services were largely inaccessible.

Fellowship Highlights

During the two-year Fellowship, Katie:
  • Provided full representation to 35 clients in estate planning and public benefits matters and provided advice and referrals to 100 individuals through virtual “walk-in” clinics
  • Established partnerships with local organizations, including the Boston VA and Boston Public Library, to provide community education presentations that reached 470 people, including veterans and service providers
  • Launched community outreach efforts, including collaborating with local veterans and disability service providers to create referral pipelines and distributing flyers to increase awareness and reach new potential clients
  • Created an advocacy guide on estate planning for low-income populations and shared it with legal services providers nationally
  • Engaged in administrative advocacy targeted at state Medicaid regulatory reform and federal SSI legislative reform

Next Steps

Katie will be clerking at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Sacramento. Following her clerkship, she plans to continue working in legal aid.

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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