Growing up in the suburbs of Richmond, Va., legal inequality was not always apparent. But as a young adult, my educational pursuits expanded my awareness and desire to instill change in our justice system. I received my undergraduate degree from Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, and then moved to Bristol, R.I., where I obtained my Juris Doctor degree from Roger Williams University School of Law. I attended Roger Williams under a Public Interest Scholarship and, while enrolled, I participated in the Immigration Clinic, the Summer Stipend Program, and Alternative Spring Break—all experiences that built upon my passion to represent underrepresented communities.
Although many law graduates end up practicing close to their alma mater, as they say, “Virginia is for Lovers,” and Richmond called me home. I absolutely adore this city. There is a small park not far from my house where I can watch the sun set over the skyline. It’s stunning, gorgeous and every other synonym for beautiful. That, in itself, is reason enough for me to stay. But even more importantly, I am fortunate enough to have found my dream job. Shortly after returning to Richmond, I joined the team at Caring Voice Coalition (CVC), which has been a gateway to expanding my skillset and continuing to do work that I love. Have you ever faced or researched attorneys’ fees? They can be quite high. It is not common in my field to be able to provide quality service to deserving individuals free of charge, but CVC provides me that opportunity.
As Senior Patient Advocate, I support a team of three advocates dedicated to obtaining expedited disability approvals for those suffering from a CVC-supported disease. We walk our patients through the entire process—from preparing to file the initial application to the final appeal stage, a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). We work together to draft creative and persuasive arguments and apply precision in application of federal regulations.
I still get excited every time my phone rings and there’s a patient on the other end. It’s my favorite part of this job—getting to know each one of the individuals we serve. I am blown away on a daily basis by the strength and kindness of everyone I come in contact with at CVC—colleagues, patients and caregivers alike.
Looking back on my two years at CVC, I recall one case that both challenged and inspired me. The first patient I ever represented at an ALJ hearing was incredibly skeptical of my credentials. When preparing her for her hearing, she said I “sounded young” over the phone and asked numerous questions about approval rates and prior achievements. While slightly caught off guard, I really appreciated this patient’s approach (and, in the end, we established a wonderful working relationship). I try to remind my patients every day that they should be their own best advocates.
You should interview your doctors, attorneys, physical therapists, insurance providers, etc., and you should be satisfied with the care and service they are providing. Try to understand how your health insurance works, don’t be afraid to ask questions, maintain your own records, review your medical bills for errors, and know when a second opinion is appropriate. And, if you need help navigating the Social Security Administration disability process—call us! We’d love to help.