New York Public Benefits

(182 Ratings)

Produced on: March 09, 2017

Course Format On Demand Audio

Taught by


Course Description

Time 100 minutes
Difficulty Intermediate

This program provides an overview of the current basic public benefits available in New York State, including Public Assistance (cash and shelter allowance), SNAP (food stamps) and Medical Assistance (Medicaid). Chris Portelli, Senior Attorney at the New York Legal Assistance Group, explores eligibility, time limits, work requirements, immigrant access, common problems, fair hearings, and more. New York State offers one of the highest paying and most comprehensive public benefits packages in the US, yet it still falls short of providing subsistence level care for low-income, homeless, and disabled New Yorkers.

Often regarded a political hot potato, the word “welfare” itself is often dropped in favor of “economic justice” or other euphemisms for welfare benefits. Navigating the welfare landscape in New York or any state is often challenging for those seeking assistance. In recent years, advocates have fought for and won many concessions in the fight to increase access to public benefits and preserve recipients’ due process rights in New York State. This course offers a bird’s eye view of the public benefits landscape, and explores the many ways advocates can help public benefits recipients and applicants with common recurring problems.

Learning Objectives: 

  1. Gain a comprehensive overview of basic public benefits available in New York State

  2. Understand some of the intricacies of available benefits, including work requirements, time limits, and criteria for eligibility

  3. Examine common challenges attorneys face navigating the public benefits landscape

  4. Explore some of the ways in which economic justice advocates can help public benefits applicants and recipients avoid those common obstacles


Christopher Portelli

New York Legal Assistance Group

Christopher J. Portelli is Senior Staff Attorney at the New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG) in Manhattan. He is founder and director of the Economic Justice Clinic at NYLAG. The clinic trains law students from St. John’s University School of Law and Brooklyn Law School in public benefits and allows the students to provide legal services to low income and homeless New Yorkers with attorney supervision. He is Co-Director of Project FAIR, a fair hearing assistance program run jointly by NYLAG and the Legal Aid Society. He frequently trains law students and attorneys in various topics in Poverty Law and related subjects. He earned his BA in Philosophy from DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, his JD from New York Law School, and a Masters of Philosophy in Public and Urban Policy at The New School. He has recently taught courses in law and public policy at Brooklyn Law School, St. John’s University School of Law, The Milano Graduate School (The New School) and New York Law School. His previous teaching experience includes interdisciplinary courses at New York University, St. Peter’s University (Jersey City), and American University (Washington, DC).


Richard W.

Presenter was very knowledgeable.

John H.

Would love to see a program dedicated to Medicaid eligibility, fair hearings, and Bureau of Fraud Investigation investigations.

William L.

This was the best Lawline course I have ever taken. The presentation and the materials exceeded my expectations greatly. I would take any course offered by this instructor.

Angela R.

excellent program highly recommended

Suzanne M.

Great job

Sarah D.

Very accessible and interesting.

Anita B.

This course should be mandatory for any NY lawyer

Jeffrey K.

This fellow is terrific. Very professional and informative.

David F.

Very clear, detailed and informative

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