Disability Rights DC

Disability Rights DC at University Legal Services (DRDC), a nonprofit protection and advocacy agency that advances the rights of DC residents with disabilities, seeks a Disability Benefits Staff Attorney for their highly respected reentry program–the DC Jail and Prison Advocacy Project. The Disability Benefits Staff Attorney is responsible for securing timely Social Security disability benefits for incarcerated DC residents with mental illness and intellectual disabilities who are preparing to return to the community. Our goal is to promote the successful re-integration of DC residents with mental illness and intellectual disabilities.


As a member of the DC Jail and Prison Advocacy Project, the Disability Benefits Staff Attorney will assist DC residents at Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) facilities, the DC Jail and the Correctional Treatment Facility, and local halfway houses with pre-release applications for SSI and SSDI in preparation for their reentry. The ideal candidate will be highly organized, detail oriented, with excellent client skills and a passion for social justice.


*Due to coronavirus, our office is officially closed. Most work is being done remotely from home, although staff have the option of meeting with clients in-person outdoors (usually right outside our office or where the client is staying) as long as social distancing is maintained and masks are worn by both parties. This applies to all parts of the job posting that refer to in-person work.*


Responsibilities include:


❑ Conduct outreach to correctional facilities to identify DC residents who might qualify for disability benefits.

❑ Gather medical and mental health records and other supporting documents.

❑ Complete and submit SSI/SSDI applications with medical summary reports.

❑ Act as liaison with federal and DC agencies to follow up on benefit applications and advocate for applicants.

❑ Track project outcomes and produce regular reports for both internal and external use.

❑ Conduct trainings for incarcerated and formerly incarcerated individuals, criminal legal professionals and others on disability benefits eligibility, and evidence-based practices for completion of pre-release applications.

❑ Provide technical assistance to correctional staff and others who are assisting incarcerated individuals with SSI/SSDI applications.

❑ Develop written materials for outreach and education. Will be opportunities for promoting the project through legal journals and conferences.


Compensation: The Disability Benefits Staff Attorney will work full-time for a competitive public interest salary plus benefits, which include full medical insurance, vacation, sick leave and other benefits.




❑ Required: JD degree

❑ Required: Membership or eligibility for membership in the DC bar.

❑ Required: Ability to communicate and build rapport with individuals who have extensive trauma histories, serious and persistent mental illness (or intellectual disabilities, and co-occurring substance use disorders), and criminal legal system involvement, and who are predominantly low-income people of color.

❑ Required: Demonstrated competence in verbal, written, organizational and prioritization skills. Strong problem-solving skills and ability to troubleshoot challenging situations and creatively advance civil rights protections. Ability to communicate and work effectively as a proactive member of an interdisciplinary team.

❑ Required: Ability to pass criminal background check required by the BOP and DOC.

❑ Preferred: Experience working within a social justice or civil rights organization, or for a criminal defense law office, particularly one that serves homeless or incarcerated individuals.

❑ Preferred: Familiarity and/or experience with SSI/SSDI eligibility and application process, although training is provided.




All applicants must briefly respond to the following three questions within a cover letter or in a separate essay (maximum 2 pages total):


1) What are your personal or professional motivations behind working in the criminal/disability rights field?

2) What do you believe is one problem in the criminal legal system that could benefit from more advocacy reform?

3) What do you believe is one problem in the behavioral health system which could benefit from more advocacy reform?


Please send your responses together with a resume and list of references electronically to:


Tammy Seltzer, Director

DC Jail & Prison Advocacy Project


No calls please




ULS values diversity of culture, disability and other life experiences, and is an equal opportunity employer by choice. People with personal experience in the criminal legal system and/or behavioral health system are welcome and encouraged to apply.

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