November 11, 2021
Six years ago, the Veterans' Rights Project (VRP) was created to meet the unique civil legal needs of vulnerable individuals who have served in all branches of the United States military. These individuals range from those who have difficulty reintegrating into the community after service abroad to older veterans facing housing challenges as they age. In keeping with New York State’s efforts to be more inclusive to all veterans, our project does not discriminate based on character of discharge and we are proud to represent members of the NYS National Guard and military reservists who often have no other program to turn to for legal representation. The VRP is unique because of our holistic multidisciplinary approach to the client intake process which allows our staff attorneys to work with their clients to develop plans for increased economic, medical, and housing stability. The VRP represents many veterans that have legal problems that relate directly to disabilities arising from their service which affect their ability to maintain employment, housing, stable family relationships and their ability to cope with mental and physical health challenges. 

Building trust with our clients allows us to obtain stronger legal outcomes. Many disabled veterans rely on the Veterans' Rights Project for day to day legal advice regarding navigating the complicated system of local, state, and federal benefits upon which they rely. Our staff attorneys receive specialized training in providing trauma informed lawyering which guides our representation of veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Military Sexual Trauma, and Traumatic Brain Injury. We help veterans obtain benefits from Veterans Affairs (VA) including vocational rehabilitation, service-connected disability benefits, appropriate medical care, discharge upgrade issues, special housing, and more. Veterans living with these conditions require both more staff time and more sensitivity than the average legal client; however, we have seen firsthand the tremendous and life changing benefits that veterans can obtain through holistic legal representation. Our staff attorneys are accredited by the Veterans Administration to represent veterans seeking relief from unfavorable VA determinations. We represent veterans in evictions, foreclosures, social security disability hearings, consumer debt matters, and family matters. We participate in local veteran stand-downs, frequently accept case referrals from the county Veterans Service Agencies and the NYS Division of Veterans Services, and provide community legal education on veterans matters.
Listen to Supervising Attorney, Paola Arango, speak about our Veterans' Rights Project. To listen in Spanish, visit our YouTube page here.
Veterans' Rights Project Success Stories

  • An older veteran with neurological health issues came to the Veterans' Rights Project feeling very anxious. He was unable to work due to his disabilities and had applied for Social Security Disability (SSD). While waiting for these benefits, he attempted to apply three separate times for public assistance over the course of a year. Although the client had no income and assets, he was unsuccessful in obtaining benefits. As the time period for requesting a fair hearing had already passed, Staff Attorney Susanna Laruccia made an appointment to meet the client at the local Department of Social Services (DSS). She assisted the veteran through every step of the application process for food stamps, cash assistance, and rental assistance benefits ensuring that he received reasonable accommodations from DSS throughout the process. Once the client was receiving public assistance Ms. Laruccia represented the veteran at his SSD hearing and received a fully favorable decision including retroactive benefits.

  • A veteran who was found 100% disabled by Veterans Affairs (VA) and has TDIU (Total Disability based on Individual Unemployability) status sought Staff Attorney Catherine Mendolia's services with a consumer debt issue. The veteran, while out of state visiting their children, became ill and had to seek emergency medical assistance. The provider was considered an outside provider of the VA system. Although, the visit should have been covered due to the emergency status, the veteran still notified the VA of the visit in order to alert them. Little did he know, the VA never provided payment, and the bill went to collections. Through months of zealous advocacy, Ms. Mendolia ensured the VA paid the outstanding bill resolving his consumer debt issue.

Thank you to Veterans' Rights Project Staff Attorneys Susanna Laruccia and Catherine Mendolia for their dedication to and advocacy for our Long Island Military Veterans.

Remember our services are free of charge! Call and ask for the Veteran's Rights Project. Nassau County residents call: 516-292-8100 Suffolk County residents call: 631-232-2400

Veterans and military families in need of assistance can access veteran support services and resources through 211 Long Island - a free, non-emergency information service that connects Long Island residents to health and human resources, in Nassau and Suffolk Counties, they may need on a daily basis or during a disaster.
To contact 211 Long Island dial 2-1-1, or outside Nassau and Suffolk Counties 1-888-774-7633, or visit

Previous Veterans Rights Presentation

Did you miss our Veterans' Rights Presentation last summer? You can still access the presentation by going to our website to register.

Description: Benefits and services from the Veterans Administration are critical for many who served in our armed forces. Join us to learn about how to overcome common obstacles to accessing Veterans Administration services, including upgrading discharge status. The presentation will also cover legal issues affecting Long Island Veterans as a result of the pandemic.

The New Power of Attorney:
Form and Substance

Friday, December 3, 1:00-2:00 pm
Presented by NSLS Adult Care Facility Project Staff Attorney, Erika S. Verrill

This Presentation will discuss the Power of Attorney (POA). We will look at what the POA is, and what it is not; factors that the advocate should task into consideration when asked to assist in the execution of a POA; and finally, we will look at the new changes in NY General Obligations Law governing the Power of Attorney Form. This presentation is appropriate for attorneys and advocates alike.
Advocacy Tips

On Friday, October 29, 2021, the Social Security Administration (SSA) released a new Emergency Message to its employees, instructing them that when a person receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits files a request for reconsideration more than 15 days after the date on a Notice of Planned Action, but within the 65-day appeal period, the recipient must continue to receive their benefits while their appeal is pending, unless they waive this in writing. More information can be found here on the National Center on Law and Elder Rights Website. Nassau Suffolk Law Services handles SSI appeals under certain circumstances. Please give us a call to determine eligibility.

New York State is currently accepting applications under the Landlord Rental Assistance Program. The New York State Landlord Rental Assistance Program (LRAP) will provide economic relief to help landlords by providing rental arrears assistance for landlords whose tenants have left their rental property or who are unwilling to apply for ERAP. To apply and determine eligibility, visit the OTDA website here.
The Community Legal Help Project
Brentwood Public Library: Tuesdays 2-5pm
Middle Country Public Library, Selden Building: Thursdays 3-6pm
For more information, see the flyer here.

Tenant Legal Advice at Patchogue-Medford Public Library
Nassau/Suffolk Law Services will be at the Patchogue-Medford Public Library on Mondays from 2-5 pm to answer Town of Brookhaven Residents' tenant-related legal questions. To make an appointment, call the library at 631-654-4700 ext. 152.
Volunteer Opportunities

  • Direct client representation in family, bankruptcy, matrimonial, and elder law
  • Providing half hour legal consultations with our Suffolk County library project in matrimonial, family, immigration, consumer, landlord/tenant, and more

  • Law Student/Paralegal Internships
  • Assist Law Services Staff with intake, case analysis, case referral, and recruitment of volunteer attorneys
  • Nassau County Volunteer Landlord/Tenant Attorney for a Day
Interested in Joining Us?

Nassau County- (516) 292-8100
Suffolk County- (631) 232-2400

Looking forward to your help!
631 232-2400 | 516 292-8100 | 631 369-1112