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History

  1. 1965

    NCLEJ is founded by Edward V. Sparer at Columbia University as the Center on Social Welfare Policy and Law to emulate civil rights lawyers’ success promoting justice through the courts and working with community organizers.

  2. 1966

    NCLEJ becomes a model “national support” center for legal aid lawyers and federal legal services funding begins.

  3. 1966

    NCLEJ begins training thousands of legal services advocates across the country in public benefits representation.

  4. 1966

    NCLEJ begins publishing articles, manuals, and updates for legal advocates across the country, both in print and, later, electronically.

  5. 1968

    NCLEJ wins King v. Smith, its first major Supreme Court welfare case, securing entitlement to aid for all those meeting federal requirements.

  6. 1970

    NCLEJ wins Goldberg v. Kelly, the landmark Supreme Court decision requiring notice and hearing before terminating critical subsistence benefits, which is still a major tool in NCLEJ litigation.

  7. 1971

    NCLEJ hires Henry Freedman as Executive Director.

  8. 1971

    NCLEJ wins Bass v. Richardson, securing over $100 million in Medicaid benefits in New York, and millions more as the Illinois court follows the Bass decision.

  9. 1971

    NCLEJ wins numerous food stamp cases across the country yielding substantial benefits to low-income households.

  10. 1972

    NCLEJ becomes an independent not-for-profit organization with its own Board of Directors.

  11. 1972

    NCLEJ publishes the three-volume Materials on Welfare Law, which is updated in following years and used extensively in training a generation of public benefit advocates.

  12. 1973

    NCLEJ expands food stamp eligibility by winning Moreno v. USDA and Murry v. USDA in the Supreme Court.

  13. 1974

    NCLEJ wins Lyons v. Weinberger, the first Supplemental Security Income (SSI) due process case in the country.

  14. 1975

    NCLEJ, with Maryland and Pennsylvania joining as plaintiffs, wins National Welfare Rights Organization v. Mathews, blocking U.S. Department of Health and Human Services regulations that would have required harsh limits on assets.

  15. 1976

    NCLEJ secures a good cause exception for custodial parents fearing harm to themselves or their child in federal child support enforcement legislation.

  16. 1979

    NCLEJ wins Califano v. Westcott, a unanimous Supreme Court decision prohibiting gender discrimination in welfare programs.

  17. 1983

    NCLEJ publishes the first of three editions of Beyond the Myths, which provides factual information to rebut common stereotypes of welfare programs and low income-families

  18. 1984

    NCLEJ plays a leading role in National Senior Citizens Law Center, et al., v. Legal Services Corporation, overturning attempted limitations on the ability of support centers to provide the full range of representation.

  19. 1988

    NCLEJ presents carefully documented studies to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), demonstrating that unbalanced Aid to Families with Dependent Chlidren (AFDC) “quality control” policies lead to procedures that deny AFDC to one million eligible families per year. NAS recommends major changes in quality control.

  20. 1989

    NCLEJ provides extensive legal assistance on child support issues to legal services attorneys in Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Iowa, Minnesota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Utah, and Washington.

  21. 1990

    NCLEJ successfully advocates for privacy, flexibility, access, and training for food stamp recipients as benefit delivery switches to the use of plastic cards.

  22. 1993

    NCLEJ widely disseminates Living at the Bottom: An Analysis of AFDC Benefit Levels.

  23. 1994

    NCLEJ convenes a two-day Talking Welfare Reform conference at Georgetown University, which is attended by 320 people, including attorneys, paralegals, and representatives of AFDC recipient groups from across the country.

  24. 1995

    NCLEJ reinvents itself after a sudden loss of federal funding, expands its program and Board, and doubles its budget over next ten years entirely from private sources.

  25. 1996

    NCLEJ initiates a program to improve quality and fairness of public benefits administration and opportunities for education and training in New York City.

  26. 1997

    NCLEJ launches a high-impact litigation program around the country to protect Medicaid, food stamps and cash assistance for low-income families.

  27. 1997

    NCLEJ changes its name to the Welfare Law Center.

  28. 1998

    NCLEJ serves as co-counsel or amicus in successful cases challenging discrimination against recent residents in Rhode Island (Westenfelder v. Ferguson; argued in First Circuit), Illinois (Hicks v.Peters; co-counsel), Pennsylvania (Maldonado v. Houston), and California (Saenz v. Roe; amicus in U. S. Supreme Court).

  29. 1998

    NCLEJ creates the internationally renowned Low Income Networking and Communications Project (LINC) to empower grassroots groups through effective use of technology.

  30. 2000

    NCLEJ launches a pioneering project applying disability rights law in the public benefits arena.

  31. 2001

    NCLEJ wins sweeping reforms that preserve and reinstate Medicaid for thousands of poor families in New York City in Mangracina v. Turner.

  32. 2002

    NCLEJ wins White v. Martin, saving Medicaid for 17,000 working parents in Missouri.

  33. 2002

    NCLEJ achieves a comprehensive settlement in an Arizona litigation, Olea v. Clayton, in a model cited around the country, changing the state’s entire approach when someone fails to comply with a requirement, so that the state will identify barriers to compliance and help the individual rather than simply cut off aid to the family.

  34. 2003

    NCLEJ negotiates a historic settlement in Davila v. Eggleston, providing education and training opportunities for single parents in New York City.

  35. 2003

    NCLEJ secures a settlement in Hawkins v. Commissioner, assuring dental services for more than 60,000 low-income children in New Hampshire.

  36. 2003

    NCLEJ secures a ruling from West Virginia Supreme Court in K.M. v. West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources that the state constitution creates an obligation to care for the needy, and that recipients of cash assistance are entitled to due process before aid is terminated.

  37. 2004

    NCLEJ wins a groundbreaking sexual harassment case in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, United States of America v. City of New York, granting federal protection under Title VII to women working in exchange for their welfare grants.

  38. 2004

    NCLEJ wins emergency court orders in Soskin v. Reinertson, blocking a Colorado law that would have ended Medicaid eligibility for low-income immigrants.

  39. 2004

    NCLEJ achieves major policy changes for welfare applicants and recipients with disabilities in New Jersey, New York, and Virginia.

  40. 2005

    NCLEJ wins Reynolds v. Giuliani, challenging New York City’s policy of deterring thousands from applying for Medicaid, food stamps, and cash benefits.

  41. 2005

    NCLEJ wins a unanimous decision in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in Camacho v. Texas Workfare Commission, blocking Texas from terminating Medicaid for thousands of low-income parents.

  42. 2005

    NCLEJ safeguards critical rights of Missouri Medicaid recipients in Wilson v. Sherman by helping to secure a settlement in a federal class action lawsuit challenging the implementation of cuts in the state’s Medicaid program that terminated more than 24,000 parents and caretaker relatives.

  43. 2005

    NCLEJ assures due process in welfare hearings in New York by successfully settling Meachem v. Wing, a longstanding case challenging New York State’s practice of depriving welfare recipients of the right to review evidence, call witnesses, and present documents in the course of appealing a negative decision.

  44. 2006

    NCLEJ changes its name to the National Center for Law and Economic Justice to reflect its broadened mission and scope of work.

  45. 2006

    NCLEJ files two class action lawsuits in southern states, Brou v. FEMA and Watson v. FEMA, on behalf of Hurricane Katrina evacuees with disabilities who were not provided accessible housing and evacuees whose emergency housing assistance was threatened with premature termination, and secures a major settlement in Brou under which 2,000 people with disabilities are placed in accessible housing.

  46. 2006

    NCLEJ persuades New York State to adopt a disability and language policy requiring local agencies to modify policies and procedures to provide equal access and opportunity to people with disabilities.

  47. 2007

    NCLEJ obtains retroactive restoration of benefits averaging $2,000 per family for some 20,000 needy New York families with a child receiving federal SSI benefits because of the child’s disabilities in Doe v. Doar.

  48. 2007

    NCLEJ secures a settlement in Vu v. Mitchell, a state court challenge to California’s failure to comply with federal food stamp translation requirements, under which the state will translate food stamp forms into eight additional languages – Arabic, Armenian, Cambodian, Farsi, Hmong, Korean, Lao, and Tagalog – and oversee county compliance.

  49. 2008

    NCLEJ secures a preliminary injunction and settlement in Julia M. v. Scott, under which Missouri will take steps to avoid erroneous termination of Children’s Health Insurance benefits to 20,000 Missouri children threatened with the loss of health care coverage for minor infractions or clerical efforts.

  50. 2008

    NCLEJ secures an agreement that youths aging out of the foster care system in New York City will gain smooth and immediate access to health care and housing services as the result of system improvements agreed upon by city and state officials following extensive fact finding and negotiations with advocates.

  51. 2008

    NCLEJ obtains three comprehensive settlements assuring that food stamp, Medicaid, cash assistance and Child Health Insurance applicants in Colorado will have improved access in applying for benefits and will be assured prompt action (Davis v. Henneberry); that food stamps, Medicaid and cash assistance applicants in Erie County, New York, will get prompt action on their applications (Martin v. Weiner); and that food stamp applicants in New York City will receive their food stamps in a timely fashion (Williston v. Eggleston).

  52. 2009

    NCLEJ obtains significant improvements in public benefit Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) policies in Arizona, Kentucky, and North Carolina.

  53. 2009

    NCLEJ achieves a favorable benefit application delay court decision in Maryland after a full trial, and favorable class action settlements in Indiana, Rhode Island, and Steuben and Suffolk Counties, New York.

  54. 2010

    NCLEJ publishes a completely updated and revised ADA Advocacy Manual, as well as The Closed Digital Door and Modernizing Public Benefits Programs, setting out important considerations about serving people with disabilities.

  55. 2010

    NCLEJ secures a favorable court-ordered class action settlement in a benefits processing class action in Colorado.

  56. 2010

    NCLEJ achieves a landmark ADA welfare agency policy in Onondaga County (Syracuse), New York.

  57. 2011

    NCLEJ secures a further favorable court-ordered class action settlement in a benefits processing class action in Colorado and favorable court-ordered class action settlements in Columbia County and Nassau County, New York.

  58. 2011

    NCLEJ secures a state trial court ruling that denying workers’ compensation coverage to farm and ranch laborers was an arbitrary denial of equal protection under the New Mexico Constitution.

  59. 2012

    NCLEJ obtains a preliminary injunction requiring Hawaii to improve its performance in processing Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) applications by measurable steps over the course of the year, and ordering further relief

  60. 2012

    NCLEJ selects Jenny Pelaez as the first Paul M. Dodyk Fellow for Economic Justice.

50th Anniversary Celebration Video

English Subtitled Version
Spanish Subtitled Version
Audio Described Version

Henry Freedman Tribute Video

Captioned Version for the Hearing Impaired
Audio Described Version

Paul M. Dodyk Fellowship for Economic Justice Video

Captioned Version for the Hearing Impaired

NCLEJ 2010 Video