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Social Security Disability 2018: From Administrative Proceedings to Federal Practice


Speaker(s): Aleah A. Gathings, Anne K. Callagy, Bradley E. Honigman, Carol Santangelo, German Castaneda, Michael Novasky, Montel Cherry, Sandra M. Gresl, Steven Godeski
Recorded on: Mar. 16, 2018
PLI Program #: 221912

Aleah A. Gathings received her J.D. from Loyola University of Chicago School of Law, her Master of Public Health from The George Washington University, and her B.A. from Temple University.  Currently, Aleah is a staff attorney at Mobilization for Justice, Inc. (formerly MFY Legal Services, Inc.) and is the attorney on site at Bellevue Hospital Center’s Child and Adolescent Clinic, a medical-legal partnership that provides special education-related legal services to children living with disabilities.  Her responsibilities include individual representation of clients in the areas of special education and government benefits and training the health care team within Bellevue’s Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry to spot legal issues that adversely affect health.


Anne Callagy has been at The Legal Aid Society since 1993. From 1993 – 2007, she was a staff attorney in the neighborhood offices in Staten Island, Brooklyn and the Bronx in the areas of housing and public benefits.  Since 2007, she has been the Supervising Attorney for the government benefits unit in The Legal Aid Society's Bronx Neighborhood Office. She is currently the Director of the Benefits Practice at Legal Aid. Ms. Callagy trains and supervises legal services and pro bono attorneys in government benefits practice, including Social Security disability benefits hearings and appeals. Ms. Callagy taught as an adjunct professor in the Urban Law Clinic at New York Law School during 2006-2007.  She graduated from Boston College and the New York University School of Law. 


Bradley E. Honigman is a litigation associate at the New York office of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP.  He is also a former law clerk to The Honorable Carlos T. Bea of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and a former litigation associate at Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP.  Since being admitted to the bar in 2013, he has dedicated more than 300 hours to pro bono work, including representing numerous applicants for Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income.  As a litigator, he represents clients in state court, federal district court, federal bankruptcy court, and arbitration.

Bradley graduated first in class from The University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law in Tucson, Arizona in 2012. In law school, he assisted indigent individuals through the Arizona Justice Project and the Civil Rights Restoration Clinic.  He also served as Managing Editor of the Arizona Law Review.  Prior to his career in law, Bradley studied psychology at The George Washington University and attended medical school at The George Washington University School of Medicine (2007-2008).  He resides in New York City with his wife and son.


German Castaneda is a paralegal in the Government Benefits Project at Mobilization for Justice, Inc. He assists individuals who are experiencing issues with their SNAP, Public Assistance, and Medicaid. He also represents clients at Social Security hearings. Additionally, he is a B.I.A. accredited representative and assists client with obtaining immigration benefits. He earned his B.A. in History from DePaul University.


Michael R. Novasky is a senior staff attorney in the Mental Health Law Project at Mobilization for Justice, Inc., where he assists New Yorkers with psychiatric disabilities with legal issues relating to Social Security benefits, housing, and various other civil legal matters. Michael regularly represents litigants in city and state courts, as well as administrative proceedings and appellate courts. As part of his practice, Michael engages in community outreach and conducts trainings to social workers and medical professionals on the basics of housing law. Michael is a 2014 graduate of the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law and he earned his B.A. from Whitworth University in Spokane, WA. He is admitted in both New York and California.


Montel A. Cherry is the Supervising Attorney of the Government Benefits Project and Workplace Justice Project at Mobilization for Justice, Inc. GBP assists individuals with legal problems relating to Public Assistance, SNAP/Food Stamps, Medicaid/Medicare, and Disability Benefits. This assistance includes representing clients in state and federal courts, at administrative hearings, as well as advocating for clients at the applicable government agency. GBP also serves immigrants in various aspects of obtaining appropriate status including obtaining green cards, adjusting status, and obtaining citizenship. GBP conducts monthly on-site clinics with various community-based organizations. WJP assists low-wage and immigrant workers. WJP provides advice, counsel, and representation to workers who face unsafe or unhealthy working conditions, including workers’ compensation claims, medical leave, and disability accommodations. WJP also helps individuals re-enter the workforce by representing them in hearings to obtain licenses to work. GBP and WJP schedule “know your rights” trainings for the community at large.  

Prior to coming to Mobilization for Justice, Inc., Ms. Cherry was a Disability Law Specialist at Manhattan Legal Services, where she represented adults and children with physical and mental impairments in appealing their denial of disability benefits.  Initially she was hired at the former Harlem Legal Services, as a staff attorney for the government benefits unit specializing in both public assistance and disability law.  She also worked as a decisions editor at the New York Law Journal. Ms. Cherry received her J.D. from CUNY School of Law and a B.A. in Sociology and African Studies from SUNY Stony Brook.  


Sandra Gresl is a Senior Staff Attorney in the Mental Health Law Project (MHLP) at Mobilization for Justice, Inc. MHLP supports people living with mental illness by seeking to prevent homelessness, stabilize income, promote recovery, and maximize community integration. Before joining MFJ, Ms. Gresl worked with both legal service and community based organizations in Seattle, Washington on issues related to intimate partner violence and immigration. She received a law degree from University of Washington School of Law.


Carol Santangelo is a Supervising Attorney at The Legal Aid Society, overseeing a city-wide initiative to assist public assistance beneficiaries in accessing federal disability benefits. Before that, Carol was a Staff Attorney in The Legal Aid Society’s Health Law Unit, during which time she was is a steering committee member of the Coalition to Protect the Rights of New York's Dually Eligible, an active member of the Medicaid Matters New York Managed Care Workgroup and the Public Program Workgroup, and was co-chair of the New York State Health Law Taskforce. Carol is a member of  New York City Bar Association’s Mental Health Law Committee; she holds a Master’s Degree in Nursing and a Certificate in Bioethics and Medical Humanities.


Steven Godeski has been at The Legal Aid Society since 1986 in the Bronx Neighborhood Office specializing in the area of public benefits.   Mr. Godeski taught as an adjunct professor in the City University of New York Law School during 1997-1998.  He graduated from City University of New York Law School.