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Client Stories


A Veteran Gets Back the Pension He Earned 


Jerry is a 68 year-old Vietnam veteran who had been receiving his Marine pension benefits for the past eight years.  Though it was a modest payment, Jerry depended on it to make ends meet.  However, after a government data entry clerk keyed in the wrong social security number for Jerry – one that happened to belong to a recently deceased veteran – his benefits were suddenly suspended.  Moreover, the Veteran’s Administration deemed the money he had been receiving as overpayment and was threatening action against Jerry’s “estate”. 

Picture of a smiling Veteran holding his dog "I don't know what I would've done without my Legal Aid lawyer. I couldn't get a straight answer from anyone, and I didn't know how I was going to live without my pension.  She saved my life."

 Being very much alive and quite able to prove it, Jerry figured he would make a few phone calls and things would be straightened out.  Unfortunately, he found himself spending hours each day on the telephone, caught up in a multi-agency bureaucratic nightmare.  He was getting nowhere, and his meager savings were running down quickly, when he met with Kristin, an attorney with Legal Aid’s Veteran’s Assistance Program. 

She helped untie what had become a tangled knot of administrative legal issues.  Working with the Social Security office, the Veteran’s Administration, and the IRS, Kristen established Jerry’s identity, then successfully fought for reinstatement of his pension, and then resolved the false overpayment issue with the IRS.  


No Longer Living In Fear


Picture of an elderly womanWhen Nancy came to Legal Aid of West Virginia, she was terrified and overwhelmed.  Her husband of 40 years had verbally and psychologically abused her throughout their marriage.  But his behavior had become even more violent and erratic lately.  Fearing for her safety, Nancy left her husband and filed a protective order against him.  However, he soon tracked her down at a housing complex for seniors, and tried to physically drag her from her apartment.  When housing security guards tried to intervene, Larry assaulted them as well.

Nancy's local domestic violence shelter referred her to Legal Aid of West Virginia, and with her attorney’s help, she was able to file a contempt action against her husband, and file for divorce.  Her husband continued to behave in a bizarre and frightening matter, defying court orders and continuing to make threats throughout the process.  Ultimately, he was hospitalized to deal with his mental health issues.  Throughout this period, Legal Aid worked with Nancy to sort through the complex issues facing her, including support, income and physical safety.

In the end, Nancy divorced her husband, obtaining a lifetime protective order, and a portion of the few assets that remained from her marriage.  She is now living a new life, where she is safe to enjoy a peaceful home, and the company of friends and family.

Lyell and Sue

Saving Their Home 


Picture of a happy familySue and Lyell are a working couple who had a modest “rent to own” lease option agreement on their home.  They had an unblemished history of paying their mortgage/rent in-full and on-time.  In 2011, Sue was diagnosed with a chronic health condition and was off of work for several months.  During this time, Lyell was laid off.  With no money coming in, they dipped into their savings to continue to pay their landlord.  Then they both breathed a sigh of relief when Sue was able to return to work, and Lyell was rehired.

However, less than six weeks later, Lyell was hit by a car and injured after he’d stopped to give aid to a friend who had been injured in a motorcycle accident.  Again, Lyell was unable to work, and without insurance, bills began to mount.  For the first time ever, Lyell and Sue found themselves short on their rent/mortgage payment, and within days the property owner petitioned the court to take over the property and force Sue and Lyell to forfeit the equity they had built up in the property.

However, through Legal Aid’s Pro Bono Assistance Program, Lyell and Sue were referred to a local private attorney experienced in bankruptcy law.  He was able to file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy on the couple’s behalf, which did not erase their debt, but did give them time to renegotiate with their lenders, and – most importantly – stay in their home.  

Today, Sue and Lyell are both working, still maintaining their home, and are getting back on track financially.