Legal Info

Self Help

Legal Info

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Legal Basics:

The Differences between Federal, State, and Local Laws
There are different types of laws. Federal laws apply to everyone in the United States. State and local laws apply to people who live or work in a particular state, commonwealth, territory, county, city, municipality, town, township or village.
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Getting Legal Assistance in Your Language: Language Access Rights at Legal Aid Offices
Legal aid offices (also called legal services) are not-for-profit agencies that provide free legal help to people who cannot afford to hire a lawyer. Many legal aid offices throughout the United States receive money from the U.S. government and therefore must provide language access services to people who do not speak English well.
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Preparing for Court
This guide is for people who already have a legal dispute that is being decided by a court or at an agency hearing and do not have an attorney.
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Working with an Interpreter in a Legal Setting
Many lawyers and legal aid offices (also called legal services) use interpreters to talk to people who do not speak English well. How to best work with an interpreter is explained below.
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Your Right to Assistance in Your Language: Basic Information about Federal Language Access Rights
Under U.S. law, if you are seeking services from a government agency or an organization funded by the U.S. government, you must be provided with assistance in your language.
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Court Fees and Getting Them Waived
You may have to pay fees (money) in your court case. The different types of fees are explained below. If you cannot afford the court fees, you may be able to get them waived (which means set aside or forgiven) by the court.
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Legal Aid and other Low-Cost Legal Help
There are legal aid offices (also called legal services) throughout the United States. Legal aid offices are not-for-profit agencies that provide free legal help to people who cannot afford to hire a lawyer. Click here to read about how a legal aid office can help you.
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The Differences between Criminal Court and Civil Court
If you are not sure whether your case belongs in criminal or civil court, read this resource to learn about their important differences.
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Power of Attorney
A power of attorney allows an agent to make all personal and business decisions for a person. This resource explains what a power of attorney is and what to expect when having one.
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Consumer

A Few Tips for Avoiding Scams
No one wants to be taken advantage of by a scam. Yet sometimes it seems that they are all around us: scams purporting to provide needed services, useful products, vacations and prizes. It is important to be careful, investigate where you are spending your money, get information in writing, and take advantage of laws and agencies available to protect consumers.
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Automobile Lemon Laws
Lemon laws were enacted to protect consumers who purchase cars for personal, non-business use.
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Automobile Repossessions
Get the facts about your rights and responsibilities if your car is repossessed.
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Dealing With Debt
Knowing about your options, and knowing what creditors can do when you owe money, may make debt easier to deal with.
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Employment Issues

Representing Yourself at an Unemployment Hearing
Guidelines for requesting and conducting an unemployment insurance benefit hearing.
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Family and Children

Divorce and the Assigned Counsel Program
This service is only available for low income individuals who live in Albany and Rensselaer Counties. The Legal Aid Society assists you by filing a Motion with the Court requesting that a private attorney be assigned to represent you in your Divorce case. If the Court grants your request, this private attorney will represent you in the divorce proceedings.
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Commonly Used Words In Family Court
A list of legal terms used in family court.
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Getting an Order of Protection
An Order of Protection is a legal document that is granted by either a criminal court or Family Court in New York State. It is designed to tell someone to refrain from offensive conduct toward you or to stay away from you completely.
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Support Obligations When the Non-Custodial Parent Gets A New Family
Often, a non-custodial parent has a child with a second spouse. If that parent had been ordered to pay child support to his “first family”, the existence of a new, “second family”, ordinarily will not affect his obligation to his “first family.”
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Health and Life Planning

Social Security Disability (SSD/SSI)
SSD is based on your work history, meaning you need to have worked and made enough income over a certain period of time in order to be eligible to file this application. An SSI application is based on financial need for food and shelter. You do not need to have worked before to file for SSI.
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Health Care Proxies And Living Wills
This article provides information explains what a health care proxy and living will and discusses how to go about getting one.
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Understanding the Medicaid Spenddown
The amount of income a person or family has over the Medicaid financial eligibility guidelines is called excess income. Some people may qualify for Medicaid if they spend the excess income on medical bills. This is called a spenddown.
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Medicaid
Medicaid is a federal program that provides medical services to qualified individuals who have low income and resources. In New York State, the Medicaid program is overseen by the County Departments of Social Services.
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Housing

Eviction For Non-Payment of Rent
Learn about the process of eviction for non-payment of rent.
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Facing Foreclosure
Effective Dec. 20th, 2016.
If you can no longer afford your current mortgage payment, what should you expect? What should you do if you want to keep your home? How long do you have before you might have to move?
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Public Assistance and Security Deposits
The regulations regarding security deposits if you are receiving public assistance.
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Security Deposits
Information about handling security deposits for renters.
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Using The Housing Authority Grievance Procedure
How tenants of public housing have complaints addressed.
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What to Do If You Can’t Afford Your Mortgage But You Want to Keep Your Home
How to deal with banks and agencies.
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When Housing Conditions Are Bad
The landlord’s and your responsibilities and actions to take.
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Emergency Housing Benefits For Persons With AIDS
The Department of Social Services now has a special program that pays cash benefits to individuals with AIDS or HIV-related illnesses who are homeless, or threatened with homelessness.
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Immigration

Finding Immigration Help
Many not-for-profit agencies across the U.S. provide free or low-cost immigration help.
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Public Benefits

Expedited Food Stamps
This resource provides an explanation on what are expedited food stamps as well as discusses the process of how to access them and what to expect once you have applied for them.
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Understanding Your Public Assistance Budget
The factors that determine how much public assistance you may receive.
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Applying For Food Stamps
Details about applying for food stamps.
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Applying For Public Assistance
Details about applying for public assistance.
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Contesting a Public Assistance Employment Sanction
When you receive public assistance, you are required to participate in employment programs. If you fail to comply with a public assistance employment program, you can be sanctioned. Here are ways to deal with a sanction.
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Fair Hearings
A Fair Hearing is a process by which you as an applicant or recipient of social services can challenge certain Department of Social Services determinations, actions or failure to act in a timely fashion.
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How To Appeal a Denial of SSI and/or Social Security Disability
What to do if your SSI or SSD application is denied.
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Public Assistance For Minors Living Alone
Minors 16 and older who don’t live with their parents (including minors living alone) might be eligible to receive welfare on their own. But there are strict guidelines which you must meet. Minors under 16 will not be granted welfare in their name; they must live with a responsible adult.
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Requesting A Fair Hearing
A Fair Hearing is where you can contest a decision made by the Department of Social Services (DSS) that you don’t agree with. The most common reasons to request a Fair Hearing are when DSS sends you a notice that it is reducing or cutting off your cash grant, food stamps or Medicaid, and you disagree with the decision.
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Social Security and Representative Payees
A representative payee is a person appointed by the Social Security Administration to manage your benefit payments if you are unable to do so yourself or if SSA believes you are unable to do so yourself. The rep payee should be someone who cares about what is best for you.
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Intentional Program Violations and Welfare Fraud
An Intentional Program Violation (IPV) is the Department of Social Services’ way of saying someone lied in order to obtain benefits, which could result in the recipient receiving more public assistance than he or she is eligible to receive.
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Public Assistance and Alcoholism/Drug Abuse
Explains some of the rules of the New York State cash public assistance programs as they apply to drug addiction and alcohol abuse. The New York cash assistance programs are Safety Net benefits (SN) and Family Assistance benefits (FA).
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Public Assistance and Utility/Heating Emergencies
If you are threatened with a utility shut-off, you may be able to qualify for financial help. Here are some guidelines on how to get emergency assistance.
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Representing Yourself at a Social Security Hearing
Social Security Disability (SSD) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are programs that provide benefits to people who are unable to work because of physical and/or mental impairments. Here is useful information on representing yourself at a SSI/SSD hearing.
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Have You Been Denied Social Security Disability or SSI Disability Benefits?
If you have been denied SSD or SSI benefits but still feel that you are too disabled to work you may not need to go through the whole application process again. You have a right to request “Reconsideration”.
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Social Security Disability (SSD/SSI)
There are two kinds of disability applications, Social Security Disability Benefits (SSD) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). There are also applications that can be filed for children with disabilities or if you are a widower/widow.
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Seniors

Homeownership Issues for Seniors
In q & a format this resource goes over some common issues that seniors may confront when dealing with their homes.
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