Volunteer Legal Advocacy Program - VLAP - VLAP Volunteer

Purpose:

To assist VLAP clients to document their MS symptoms and functional limitations for complex disability benefit applications such as Canada Pension Plan-Disability (CPP-D), Persons with Disabilities (PWD), the Disability Tax Credit (DTC), and Long Term disability benefits (LTD)

 

Responsibilities:

·   Assist clients to document their MS symptoms and functional limitations

o  Interview clients over the phone and/or in person at an MS Society office

o  Take clear, detailed notes in the client’s own voice

o  Organize and format the information to answer relevant questions from the disability application forms, to demonstrate how the client meets the benefit’s eligibility criteria

  • Communicate clearly with the VLAP Coordinator, clients, and fellow-volunteers regarding interview appointments with clients and the development of documents for applications
  • Volunteers often work in pairs to assist a single client

 

Skills, Attitudes, Knowledge Required:

  • Detail-oriented with strong verbal and written English skills
  • Calm, patient and enjoys working with people
  • Empathic, supportive, with a positive attitude and a good listener
  • Mature and sensitive – able to speak with clients about emotional and personal topics related to their disease and symptoms
  • Computer skills: e-mail access, Microsoft Word
  • Ability to work over the phone with clients (access to a phone and stable reception)
  • Willingness to participate in the program’s on-boarding processes such as signing required policy documents and undergoing a criminal record check
  • Knowledge of MS, chronic illness, or disability and of disability benefit programs such as CPP-D are an asset, but not required

 

Training and Orientation:

Mandatory one-day in-person training seminar (usually in October)

Online modules to be completed before training day

Training components include:

  • Orientation to the MS Society and Multiple sclerosis
  • Orientation to VLAP and the Canada Pension Plan – Disability (CPP-D) application
  • Observing a mock interview with a client
  • Participating in a practice interview with a client over the phone
  • Shadowing of an experienced volunteer for the volunteer’s first case (taking notes and developing the document, but not asking the interview questions)
  • Additional support is provided to volunteers by phone, email, and in-person meetings where needed by the VLAP Coordinator
  • Participation in additional training workshops and webinars when available

 

Time Commitment:

  • Two-year commitment is requested because of the training and skill required
  • Volunteers can take on clients as their availability allows and depending on VLAP’s caseload from month to month
  • The time commitment to assist one client varies from 3 to 10+ hours, depending on the client’s needs and application involved – normally for CPP-D, the assistance includes 2 to 3 telephone interviews as well as time between calls working on the document
  • Appointments with clients can be scheduled based on the schedule of the volunteers and the client.

 

Supervisory Relationships/liaison:

Supervision is provided by the VLAP Coordinator and Supervising Lawyers where needed

 

Volunteer Benefits:

  • Valuable training about MS and the effects of a chronic medical condition
  • Gaining in-depth knowledge about the process of complex applications, such as CPP-D applications, advocacy procedures, and government resources
  • Experience working in the non-profit/health services sector and conducting client interviews
  • Training and experience in client interview techniques