The essential mission of CHLP is to provide legal and advocacy services to New Jersey residents with disabilities. We serve consumers of mental health services, people with physical disabilities, HIV/AIDS, developmental disabilities, and visual impairments. Our attorneys and advocates represent clients in matters involving Social Security benefits, Welfare, food stamps, and other entitlements; housing habitability and landlord-tenant disputes; foreclosure defense; consumer protection and debt collection; child support and domestic violence; Medicaid, Medicare, and other health insurance issues. Each year, CHLP helps nearly 5,000 New Jersey residents with disabilities through brief service and representation. In addition to these services, CHLP operates several unique programs:
Health Insurance Enrollment Program
Open Enrollment for Individuals/Families
You can apply and enroll in health coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace at HealthCare.gov during Open Enrollment from November 1, 2015 - January 31, 2016. Health coverage starts as early as January 1, 2016.
Through the Marketplace, you can apply, compare, and find out if you can get free or low-cost coverage. The Marketplace offers different types of health plans to meet a variety of needs and budgets. Many people using the Marketplace will qualify to save money.
If you are unsure which health insurance option is the best for your and your family after researching plans in the Marketplace, the Community Health Law Project’s trained assisters are available to speak by phone or meet in person to help you navigate the Marketplace.
The first step is to create a Marketplace account at HealthCare.gov where you can find out if you are eligible for subsidies toward your healthcare costs. Gather the following information to create your account:
• Social Security numbers
• Birth dates
• Pay stubs, W-2 forms, or “Wage and Tax Statements”
• Policy numbers for any current health insurance
• Information about any health insurance you or your family could get from your jobs.
You can sign up for marketplace health insurance outside of open enrollment if you experience certain life events that give you a “special enrollment period.” If you experience one of these events, you have 60 days from the date of the event to enroll:
• Getting married or divorced.
• Permanently moving to a new area in the state or country that offers different health plans options.
• Losing other health coverage (due to job loss, divorce, loss of Medicaid, COBRA, decertification of current health plan, or loss of coverage under a parent’s plan).
• Gaining a dependent or becoming a dependent through birth, adoption, placement for adoption, or placement in foster care.
• Becoming a citizen, a national, or a lawfully present resident.
• Leaving prison, jail, or a correctional facility.
• No longer qualifying for an exemption from the penalty for not having insurance.
Under the Affordable Care Act, you may be newly eligible for free coverage
through NJ FamilyCare if the income of your “tax household”
(the people included on your tax return) falls below the following amounts:
1 person - $16,015
2 people - $21,707
3 people - $27, 310
4 people - $32,913
5 people - $38,516
These dollar amounts may change annually.
For Small Business Owners
The Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) Marketplace helps small businesses provide health coverage for their employees.
The SHOP Marketplace is open to employers with 50 or fewer full-time-equivalent employees (FTEs). If you have fewer than 25 employees, you may qualify for tax credits if you buy insurance through SHOP.
Benefits of the SHOP Marketplace:
• You control the coverage you offer and how much you pay toward employee premiums.
• Immediate tax credits are available for most small businesses. If you buy SHOP coverage and have fewer than 25 employees, you may qualify for a small business health care tax credit worth up to 50% of your premium costs. You can still deduct the rest of your premium costs not covered by the tax credit from your taxes.
• You can choose from different levels of coverage to find a plan that meets the needs of your business and employees.
• You can start coverage any time. Enroll by the 15th of the month and coverage can begin on the 1st of the following month.
CHLP staff, under a grant from the van Ameringen Foundation, will provide face-to-face assistance to individuals living with a mental health or addiction problem to apply for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act and New Jersey Family Care.
To schedule an appointment with a trained assister call:
North Jersey - 973-680-5599
East Jersey - 908-355-8282
Shore Area - 732-380-1012
Central Jersey - 609-392-5553
South Jersey - 856-858-9500
Or visit our website at: www.chlp.org
Or visit the federal healthcare enrollment website at: www.healthcare.gov
Civil Rights and Fair Housing Litigation
Community Health Law Project is a leader in the effort to enforce state and federal fair housing laws that govern barrier-free accessibility. Litigation initiated by CHLP has resulted in the construction of over 3,000 accessible apartments and condominium units in New Jersey and the repeal of numerous discriminatory municipal zoning ordinances. In 1996, one such lawsuit resulted in the repeal of exclusionary zoning ordinances that prevented community residences from operating in areas zoned for single-family dwellings. In 1998, a lawsuit was filed against a condominium development alleging violations of state architectural barrier laws. After being tried, in 2008 the judge ordered the developer to spend 1.5 million dollars for retrofits bringing them into compliance with the New Jersey Barrier-Free Subcode.
Public Policy Advocacy
The Community Health Law Project's staff continued to address systems-wide issues that affect our clients in a number of ways. For example, we participated in statewide coalitions such as the New Jersey Anti-Poverty Network; New Jersey Medicaid and Medicare Advocates Group; and various county professional advisory committees to local mental health planning boards. We took active roles in the government affairs committees and other activities of statewide organizations such as Disability Rights New Jersey; the New Jersey Association of Mental Health And Addiction Agencies and the Mental Health Association in New Jersey. CHLP's direct services staff attorneys and advocates participated in dozens of local advisory boards and task forces around the state addressing issues such as homelessness, mental illness, developmental disabilities, Social Security, HIV/AIDS services, prisoner reentry and human services. In addition, CHLP provided community education and training on a variety of topics, including Social Security Disability, landlord-tenant law and the provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act of 2008. We also continued to train consumers and mental health professionals and advocates regarding the extinguishment of psychiatric hospital liens and debts.
Trainings and Workshops
CHLP offers a wide range of workshops for consumers and professionals. With the support of the New Jersey State Bar Foundation, it presents one to two Law & Disability Issues conferences a year at the New Jersey Law Center in New Brunswick. Subjects include general civil rights cases, fair housing rights, health care issues and new laws affecting people in institutional settings. CHLP’s branch offices also present trainings to consumers and professionals in their local service areas.
Student Internship Program
Since 1987, CHLP has been holding its annual Ann Klein Advocate Awards, the proceeds of which support its student internship program. Using these funds, as well as funding from Legal Services of New Jersey, CHLP has been able to hire several law students and graduate students every year to work in its branch offices on direct legal services, and in its South Orange Administrative office. In so doing, it helps to train and inspire the next generation of disabilities advocates and attorneys.