Law students help create class that aids homeless veterans

Melissa Tyner

By Mike Fricano

With an estimated 6,000-plus homeless military veterans in Los Angeles County, the handful of legal assistance organizations and attorneys doing pro bono work just aren’t enough to help all eligible veterans access their disability benefits.

To help homeless veterans receive the financial assistance for which they qualify, a small group of UCLA law students helped to create a new Veterans Benefits Legal Clinic course focused on what can be a very complex task.

“Most people don’t sue on their own without a lawyer,” said David Tierney, a Marine Corps veteran and one of the law students instrumental in creating the class. “Most people don’t treat themselves when they’re sick without a doctor. But veterans are trying to apply for benefits by themselves all the time, and no one is telling them otherwise.”

Similar to a worker’s compensation claim, a veteran’s disability benefits claim requires evidence that an injury or traumatic experience in service caused a disability that interferes with the veteran’s ability to work.

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