Projects Page Client Stories

Helping the Disabled
Rosa is a 45-year-old, single, Hispanic mother of two minor children. She has a ninth-grade education and her ability to read and write English is limited. When her health after several surgeries prevented her from performing her work, she lost her job, which led to foreclosure of her family home. Rosa applied for SSI disability benefits on her own but her original claim was denied. Her request for reconsideration was also denied. Rosa heard about the work of the Legal Aid Society and asked for help. A staff attorney represented her to appeal the SSI denials and won. Rosa was awarded social security disability benefits, plus a retroactive award dating back to her first surgery. In addition, the Legal Aid Society was able to obtain medical assistance benefits for her current and future medical care. With a stable income and health insurance, Rosa hopes to return to the work force when she recovers.


“Torrance” is a deaf African American man with a wife and two young children. The family’s landlord filed an eviction action after the building went into foreclosure. A Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee. staff attorney Rachel Arfa, who is both profoundly deaf and fluent in American Sign Language, represented Torrance and his family. She obtained an interpreter under the Americans with Disabilities Act to assist Torrance in his court appearances. She also helped him assert his rights under the Federal Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act, which resulted in the court granting Torrance and his family a 90-day extension of time to seek, and eventually find, acceptable new housing. Attorney Arfa then obtained a dismissal of the eviction proceeding to clear Torrance’s credit record.


Ruth worked on a machine line for a manufacturing company for 23 years. She obtained the job as part of special education services she received for her intellectual disabilities during the transition from high school. As part of cut-backs, the company decided to test employees on their machines to have them, in essence, reapply for their jobs.
Ruth asked for reasonable accommodations in taking the test, including extra time and having someone read the questions to her and write down her answers. She was denied any accommodations, failed the test and was fired. Ruth’s cognitive disability left her unable to represent herself, so she and her family came to Disability Rights Wisconsin (DRW) for help.
DRW advised Ruth that she should file a complaint with Wisconsin’s Equal Rights Division. DRW then worked with Ruth and her family to prove her case. When the case was certified for a hearing by the Equal Rights Division, the company agreed to settle, providing Ruth with back pay of $9,000, and a favorable letter of reference.

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