Public Benefits

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The Public Benefits Group uses a two-pronged approach of education and legal advocacy to help families and individuals obtain and maintain the income, nutritional, and medical assistance to which they are entitled under state and federal law.

Advocates in this group provide clients with legal representation in matters related to Public Benefits Law.

The Health Law Team represents clients who have been wrongfully denied medical benefits, and Medical-Legal Partnerships and Medical Legal Assistance for Families are coordinated efforts between TRLA and medical providers with the mission of providing holistic services, especially to the medically needy.

The Advocacy for the Homeless team works with those living in homelessness, helping them access benefits and services to transition into a better life.

The Veterans Advocacy Project works with veterans, the spouses and widows or widowers of veterans, and dependent children of veterans to obtain benefits and services that they are entitled to, as well as legal representation in other non-criminal matters.

Reneé Treviño, Group Coordinator

Advocacy for the Homeless

The Advocacy for the Homeless Team provides legal assistance to help people living in homelessness obtain and retain housing, employment, and public benefits that enable them to live dignified, self-sufficient lives off the streets.

Services & Activities

  • Provide representation on class C misdemeanor citations, including warrants recall, and in other legal matters, including simple divorces, wage-theft recovery, and appeals of denials of Social Security and other public benefits:

  • Secure disability benefits for people experiencing homelessness, and provide advice and brief services on other legal issues;

  • Raise awareness within social worker and case manager communities of the legal options available to the homeless;

  • Conduct on-site outreach at homeless shelters;

  • Improve outreach services throughout TRLA's service area by participating in coalitions such as the El Paso Legal Clinic for the Homeless and the South Alamo Regional Alliance for the Homeless (SARAH) in San Antonio.

Everett Saucedo, Team Manager


TRLA's Health Law Team works to increase both health-care access and healthy outcomes for low-income Texans by representing and advocating for them in extended and brief-service cases. Through administrative proceedings and litigation in state and federal court, the team's attorneys advocate for clients who have been wrongfully denied medical services, supplies, and/or procedures by Medicaid, Medicare, or Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). 

Bernadette Segura, Team Manager

Medical Legal Partnership

TRLA partners with medical providers in Brownsville, El Paso, and San Antonio as part of a national effort to improve the health and wellbeing of low-income people by combining the expertise of attorneys and medical practitioners. Our Medical-Legal Partnership program (MLP)—part of the National Center for Medical Legal Partnerships—operates in recognition that poor health is linked to poverty and related problems such as substandard housing and inadequate education. In fact, research has established that about 60 percent of an individual's health is determined by social and economic factors such as personal and family stability, income and health insurance, immigration status, housing and utilities, and education and employment. As such, TRLA's MLP staff work with their medical partners—both hospitals and health clinics—to identify the legal problems that compromise the health of their patients. Once TRLA's medical partners have referred patients for free legal services, MLP staff work to resolve adverse legal and administrative problems to the benefit of both the clients and their families.

Bernadette Segura, Team Manager-El Paso
Priscilla Noriega, Team Manager-Brownsville

Medical Legal Assistance for Families 

Medical Legal Assistance for Families (MLAF) operates as a partnership between TRLA, the Children's Hospital of San Antonio, and the Baylor College of Medicine's Pediatric Residency Program at the Children's Hospital. Under the partnership, TRLA accepts patients for legal assistance by referral from the two pediatrics departments. TRLA also accept referrals from the pediatrics department at UT Health San Antonio. Our legal priority areas are education, housing, public benefits and guardianships for children transitioning to adulthood. 

Susan Zinn, Team Manager


The mission of this team is to improve low-income families' access to nutritional, medical, and income-support benefits by providing legal advice, counsel, and representation to people who have been unlawfully denied or terminated from government assistance programs. The team represents clients who have been denied access to local, state, and federal benefit programs, including SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as Food Stamps); Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF); the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP); and Social Security benefits (SSI), as well as retirement, survivors, and disability insurance.

Services & Activities

  • Conduct outreach and provide education to people who have been denied access to public benefits;

  • Represent low-income people through administration hearings and litigation in public benefits cases involving SNAP, TANF, Medicaid and Social Security;

  • Provide advice, counsel, and brief services and assistance to clients.

Reneé Treviño, Team Manager


The Veterans Advocacy Project represents veterans and active duty members of the U.S. Armed Forces, along with their spouses, widows and widowers, and dependent children, in a wide range of legal matters. 

Services & Activities

  • Help low-income veterans receive well-deserved benefits, including assistance from the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), as well as SNAP (food stamps), MEDICAID and TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) benefits from the Texas Health and Human Services Commission;

  • Assist homeless veterans in obtaining disability benefits, housing benefits, and other assistance aimed at ending veteran homelessness;

  • Conduct public education about benefits available to low-income veterans and their families, and about their rights when applying for and receiving those benefits;

  • Legal representation, advice, and counsel for veterans in a wide range of civil legal matters involving housing, consumer, civil rights, employment, and family law;

  • Ask-a-Lawyer sessions at VA facilities and events sponsored by veteran service organizations, which provide veterans with immediate legal advice and identify veterans who need extended TRLA representation;

  • License recovery activities to help veterans clear the legal hurdles to obtaining new driver's licenses.

The Veteran Advocacy Project is supported by a grant from the Texas Veterans Commission Fund for Veterans' Assistance and the Texas Access to Justice Foundation. The fund provides grants to organizations serving veterans and their families.

Reneé Treviño, Team Manager