Baltimore County Office
Mr. B., a 60 year-old disabled veteran who faced losing his home that he owns outright due to a tax sale foreclosure, originally contacted Maryland Legal Aid in late January 2018 for assistance with reinstating his Social Security Income (SSI) benefits. However, the Social Security Administration (SSA) miscalculated the case value of his life insurance policy and counted him as “over assets,” thus making him ineligible for the needs-based SSI. Additionally, Mr. B. was unable to authenticate his U.S. citizenship since he had lost his original naturalization certificate during his time in service overseas and had no other acceptable form of identification. Given the fact that so much time had passed from when Mr. B. was first granted benefits, he was also at risk of having to reapply for SSI and repeat the entire determination process again. Staff Attorney Caitlin Tepe managed Mr. B.’s SSI benefits case.
Mr. B. was unable to pay his delinquent property tax bill and his home was subsequently auctioned to Thornton Mellon, LLC. Thornton Mellon filed a complaint to foreclose Mr. B.’s right to redeem in December 2017. Former Staff Attorney Lucia Alencherry handled Mr. B.’s tax sale case with guidance from Louise Carwell, Senior Attorney in the Baltimore City Consumer Law
Caitlin and Lucia were able to get Mr. B.’s SSI benefits reinstated by meeting with the SSA to explain the error in their asset calculations and by providing supplemental documentation, including another copy of Mr. B.’s naturalization certificate from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The SSA reinstated Mr. B.’s benefits and granted him back benefits from January 2016, without requiring him to reapply.
Additionally, the team filed motions attacking technical defects in the Tax Sale Foreclosure complaint, which gave Mr. B. enough time to gain access to his SSI funds to pay off his delinquent property tax bill plus interest and fees to save his home. Mr. B., who is very appreciative of Maryland Legal Aid’s assistance, now has a steady monthly income from SSI, and is no longer at risk of losing his home.