Allen & Penny

Allen and his wife Penny are both 63, with four grown daughters. After working for a large company for almost 20 years, Allen was suddenly “downsized.” He received unemployment benefits while he looked for a job, but after more than a year of searching, it became clear that they would soon be living off of Social Security. Since that wouldn’t be enough to pay the mortgage, he decided to cash out his pension and pay off the balance on their home. He reported the pension distribution to the state. Then they got some bad news: the Employment Department said he’d have to pay back all the unemployment benefits. Worse, Penny had just been diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. That’s when Allen called legal aid. Legal aid successfully challenged the case on the basis that Allen was a dislocated worker and this is an exception to retirement distributions. Today, the mortgage is paid off, and Penny is in remission. Allen said “We are just very thankful that legal aid existed, so we could get help in an area that we had no expertise in. [Representing myself] would have been like trying to cure myself of cancer without the help of physicians and surgeons.”

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