Medical-legal partnerships provide an exciting new tool to help clinicians advocate for climate-vulnerable patients and influence the social determinants of health.
71% of low-income households faced at least one civil legal problem in the last year, and these issues can create barriers to healthy eating, suitable housing, employment, and safety. Landlords and workplaces are required by law to rectify poor conditions that affect health, and medical-legal partnerships make this process easier.
Medical-legal partnerships streamline the process of accessing patients’ rightful accommodations, which can lead to improved health and fewer hospital visits. They target individual patients’ existing social determinants of health, such as mold in housing or excessive sun exposure at work, that can exacerbate conditions such as asthma.
The templates we provide make requesting accommodations more accessible to both physicians and patients. Their language can also be adapted for other relevant cases.
Under the Fair Housing and Americans with Disabilities Acts, all people have the right to accommodations for disabilities. Disabilities are defined as any mental or physical impairments that substantially limit major life activities, including breathing, eating, sleeping, or performing manual tasks, among others. A patient does not have to be a recipient of Social Security disability benefits or meet Social Security’s definition of disabled to request a reasonable accommodation.
The patient must provide enough information to demonstrate disability. To do so, the physician and patient collaborate to fill out one of our existing letter templates based on the particular need. Upon receipt of the letter, the relevant party (landlord, supervisor, etc.) must make the necessary accommodations. Links to the different templates are below.
If accommodation is denied, patients can seek legal assistance or contact a legal aid. The law prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who request accommodations under the ADA.