Though Matsikoudis & Fanciullo always tries to do cases in the public interest, we do practice law to make a living. But, sometimes, we feel compelled to handle a case pro bono – i.e., for free.
We recently successfully handled a pro bono case for a young, immigrant college student who volunteered on my mayoral campaign and who had received social security benefits due to a disability. The Social Security Administration sought to disgorge some $15,000 in money it had previously granted to our client, claiming that our client’s family had amassed too much money in its bank accounts to qualify for such benefits.
However, that “too big” bank balance was due to loans our client’s family from extended family members so that our client and his mother could put a down-payment on a house – which turns out to be a permitted exception under Social Security regulations. After appearing before an Administrative Law Judge at the Social Security offices in Jersey City, we secured a fully favorable decision for our client.
Our client’s disability has improved so that he no longer needs benefits, and now he can continue his studies at the New Jersey Institute of Technology without fear of having to pay $15,000, which would have been a massive hardship. Even though this case was literally entirely about money, it was proof that not everything is: We didn’t make a dime, but coming through for our client was incredibly gratifying.