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Mobile Benefit Bank Secures $1 Million in Benefits


JUNE 27, 2010

ABLE Mobile Benefit Bank Secures $1 Million in Benefits
for Residents of Lucas County

The Mobile Benefit Bank (MBB) of Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, Inc. (ABLE) reports securing close to $1 million in food stamps and other benefits for residents of Lucas County since April 2009.

"Approximately three-quarters of a million dollars in food stamps have been secured for more than 500 individuals and families. These are new benefits that people in great need never had before," says Lisa Mantel, an attorney with ABLE's Legal Aid Line and the MBB project. The Mobile Benefit Bank operates as part of Legal Aid Line and provides applicants with a legal assessment as well as an eligibility screening for various government benefit programs.
 
JUNE 27, 2010

ABLE Mobile Benefit Bank Secures $1 Million in Benefits
for Residents of Lucas County

The Mobile Benefit Bank (MBB) of Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, Inc. (ABLE) reports securing close to $1 million in food stamps and other benefits for residents of Lucas County since April 2009.

"Approximately three-quarters of a million dollars in food stamps have been secured for more than 500 individuals and families. These are new benefits that people in great need never had before," says Lisa Mantel, an attorney with ABLE's Legal Aid Line and the MBB project. The Mobile Benefit Bank operates as part of Legal Aid Line and provides applicants with a legal assessment as well as an eligibility screening for various government benefit programs.

A recent report from the Ohio Benefit Bank indicates that more than 800 clients have been enrolled as recipients of Department of Job and Family Services benefits through the Mobile Benefit Bank, with more than 1,400 household members served. "The Mobile Benefit Bank has served households with disabled members, children, the elderly, and the unemployed," says Mantel.

AmeriCorps members, trained as Benefit Bank Counselors, use Ohio Benefit Bank software, to assist clients in applying for food stamps as well as completing applications for home energy assistance, prescription drug and health care assistance, cash assistance, school meals, and other programs.

"For the first time this year, we provided assistance to clients in filing their federal and state income tax returns," Mantel states. "Understanding the Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, education credits, and other tax related matters is challenging for many people, not just our clients," she adds.  With the help of the Mobile Benefit Bank staff, seniors and low income Lucas County residents filed for close to $200,000 in federal and state income tax refunds in 2009.

ABLE's Mobile Benefit Bank staff travel with laptops, portable printers, cell phones, and mobile Internet access to senior and disabled residences; daycare centers; Toledo Lucas County Public Library locations; food banks; Goodwill locations, events; and to activities throughout Lucas County. Potential applicants are offered the opportunity to submit applications for government benefits, including food stamps, cash assistance, home energy assistance, prescription drug and other medical assistance, and more.

In addition, a unique feature of the collaboration between the Mobile Benefit Bank and the law firms of ABLE and Legal Aid of Western Ohio, Inc. (LAWO) is the ability of staff to complete a legal assessment for each applicant to determine if there is a need for legal assistance. "The decline in our area's economy has resulted in a growing number of poor and unemployed people who face eviction, foreclosure, bankruptcy and other legal problems," reports Mantel.  "Often times, they aren't even aware that they have a legal issue. By conducting a legal assessment, we are able to assist them with more than just government and other benefit programs."

The Mobile Benefit Bank is supported in part by the Lucas County Department of Job and Family Services, the Toledo Community Foundation, the United Way of Greater Toledo, ABLE and LAWO.