Rebecca Vallas joined Community Legal Services in September 2009 as a Skadden Fellow, funded to represent elderly and disabled individuals facing cutoffs or denials of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for reasons not connected to their disabilities. In 2011 she was awarded the Borchard Fellowship in Law and Aging, which funded her to represent seniors directly in public benefits matters, and to engage in systemic advocacy, community education and outreach. Her practice also includes representation of individuals with criminal records facing barriers to accessing public benefits, and systemic advocacy around criminal debt collection.
In addition, Ms. Vallas engages in administrative and legislative advocacy on Social Security's retirement and disability programs. She has also delivered trainings at the local, state, and national level on topics such as accessing public benefits with a criminal record and Social Security "nondisability" issues.
Ms. Vallas represents CLS as a member of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities, as an active member of the Social Security Task Force. She co-leads (with the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law) the SSI Coalition for Children and Families, which seeks to preserve the SSI program for low-income children with severe disabilities. She is also a member of the Philadelphia Bar Association's Social Security Disability Benefits Committee.
Awards and Publications
Ms. Vallas was recently named one of Forbes Magazine's "30 Under 30" for Law and Social Policy in 2011. While in law school, the law school's faculty awarded her the Margaret Hyde Award, the Mortimer Caplin Public Service Award, and the Pro Bono Award for completing the most pro bono service in her graduating class.
She is the author of a recent article in Clearinghouse Review, "Kids' SSI Disability Benefits at Risk... Again," (May-June 2012). She is also the co-author of a brief, "Supplemental Security Income: Recent Research and Trends," to be published by the National Academy of Social Insurance (NASI) in July 2012.
Ms. Vallas received her J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law, where she was elected to the Order of the Coif. She graduated summa cum laude from Emory University, where she received a B.A. in Psychology, and was elected Phi Beta Kappa.