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Legal Services

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Mental Health America has a legal service center to work with clients to make sure that they get the representation they need and gain access to services required to protect their rights.

Mission Statement

To achieve justice for and defend the rights of individuals with disabilities through legal advocacy and representation.

Eligibility Criteria

An individual is eligible for services from MHAI Legal Services if the individual has a disability (including individuals with mental illness, developmental disabilities, physical disabilities and individuals in recovery) and the legal issue is related to or significantly impacted by the disability. An individual’s income is not a factor in determining eligibility.

Areas of Practice

Special Education, including:

    • Special Education in public and private schools
    • Special education services for juveniles who are incarcerated or in treatment centers

DiscriminationConstitutional and other Civil Rights issues as they relate to disabilities, including:

    • Commitment, Treatment and Placement Issues
    • Parity in Insurance
    • Employment Discrimination
    • Housing Discrimination

Criminal issues as they relate to disabilities-Juveniles and Adults, including:

    • Records expungement
    • Sealing records when appropriate
    • Pre- and Post- Diversion Programs
    • Post conviction relief.

Other, including:

    • Commitment-Adult and Child
    • Guardianship
    • Advance directives/Power of Attorneys/Health Care Representatives
    • Child in Need of Services/Parental Terminations:
    • Custody/Visitation
    • Wills/Estates

Generally, MHAI Legal Services will accept no divorces, bankruptcies, consumer debt, or tax controversies as many pro bono organizations provide representation for these areas.

Intake Process

All potential clients will complete the MHAI Legal Services Application and meet with a MHAI Legal Services Attorney to be considered for legal services. Blank applications can be downloaded here or a MHAI attorney will e-mail or mail a blank application to a potential client. MHAI will not accept completed applications through the website or e-mail as the applications contain personal and confidential information. Potential clients may mail completed applications to MHAI, bring completed application to the intake appointment, or fill out applications at the intake appointment.

MHAI Legal Services will review each application to determine if a potential client has a disability, whether the legal issue meets the MHAI criteria for services, and whether there is a conflict with the potential client or involved parties.  If MHAI Legal Services accepts a case, a legal fee, if appropriate, will be determined from the information provided on the application using the Fee Schedule.    

Client Grievance Procedure

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Should a client have a grievance over the quality of services or actions/non-actions of a MHAI attorney, the client may submit a grievance in writing to the Managing Attorney within thirty (30) working days of the event underlying the grievance or thirty (30) days from the time the client should have been aware of the event. The client may use the MHAI grievance form or submit their own written grievance that includes the client’s name, contact information, the MHAI attorney assigned to the client, and the actions or events underlying the grievance. If the client needs assistance with the written grievance, he/she may call the Managing Attorney. The Managing Attorney will review the grievance, investigate if necessary and issue a written response within fifteen (15) working days of the date of receipt of the grievance. If the client is dissatisfied with the Managing Attorney’s decision, the client may appeal that decision to the MHAI President within fifteen (15) working days. The appeal must also be written. The President will have fifteen (15) working days from the date of receipt of the appeal to issue a written decision.

Fee Schedule:

Using the 2011 U.S.Dept. of Health and Human Services Poverty Guidelines:

No. of Person
In Family
In the 48 Contiguous
States and D.C
at 125% at 150% at 200% at 250% at 300%
1 $10,890 $13,613 $16,335 $21,780 $27,225 $32,670
2 $14,710 $18,388 $22,065 $29,429 $36,775 $44,130
3 $18,530 $23,163 $27,795 $37,060 $46,325 $55,590
4 $22,350 $27,938 $33,525 $44,700 $55,875  
5 $26,170  $32,713 $39,255 $52,340    
6 $29,990 $37,488 $44,985 $59,980    
7 $33,810 $42,263 $50,715      
8 $37,630 $47,038 $56,445      

For each additional person add $3,820

MHAI Legal Services Hourly Fees

Using the 2011 HHS Poverty Guidelines:

  • Any client earning at Poverty Level or below will be charged the hourly rate of $15.00 (fifteen dollars).
  • Any client earning $1.00 above poverty level to 125% of poverty level will be charged an hourly rate of $25.00(twenty-five dollars).
  • Any client earning $1.00 above 125% of poverty level to 150% of poverty level will be charged an hourly rate of $50.00(fifty dollars).
  • Any client earning $1.00 above 150% of poverty level to 200% of poverty level will be charged an hourly rate of $75.00(seventy-five dollars).
  • Any client earning $1.00 above 200% of poverty level up to 250% of poverty level will be charged an hourly rate of $100.00(one hundred dollars).

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Bottom Line...

"Advocates in Indiana and Michigan are making some progress against Medicaid prescription limits by working with state lawmakers to find safer alternatives to ensure consumers with mental illness have access to medications."

Mental Health Weekly