What is the Protection and Advocacy Network or P&A?

The Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act of 1975 mandated a system to protect and advocate for the rights of persons with developmental disabilities. This system is the Protection & Advocacy (P&A) network. Under this act, the P&A agency has the authority to pursue legal, administrative, and other appropriate remedies to ensure the protection of the rights of persons who have a developmental disability. Subsequent federal legislation created additional grant programs that expanded the agency’s services to include persons with all kinds of disabilities. In Montana, Disability Rights Montana is the designated P&A. Click here to learn more about the P&A history.

Can Disability Rights Montana help with my divorce, custody, writing a will, etc?

Disability Rights Montana receives a percentage of federal grants in order to carry our primary functions. There are other services that may provide assistance, click here to check out our resources page.

Disability Rights Montana does not provide assistance in such matters as:

  • Divorce, custody, support, or other family law matters, except in unusual circumstances or when serious systemic issues are involved.
  • Drafting of wills, trusts, and estate planning.
  • Representation in criminal proceedings.
  • Malpractice cases.
  • Workers’ compensation; issues related to collective bargaining agreements; unemployment compensation.
  • Product liability cases.
  • Bankruptcy matters.
  • Personal injury cases, including intentional torts.
  • Consumer protection issues.
  • Tax issues.
  • Pension, ERISA issues.
  • Property disputes

What are disabilities?

The ADA defines a person with a disability as a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activity. However, the word “disability” can mean different things to different people. Learn more in this video by Rooted in Rights.

Does DRM help people apply for Social Security Administration (SSA) benefits (SSI or SSDI) or appeal benefits denials?

No. DRM does not help people apply for Social Security Administration benefits (SSI or SSDI) or appeal benefits denials.

If you are interested in applying for benefits, you can apply online, in person, or over the phone 800-772-1213 (TTY 800-325-0778).  For more information, to apply online, and to find your local SSA office, you may visit the SSA website.

After submitting your application, if you are denied SSA benefits, you have the option to appeal.  You can obtain an attorney to assist you with an appeal.  Generally, an attorney will take his/her fee as a percentage of any back-payment you are awarded and, if this is the case, you should not have to pay anything out of pocket.  The National Organization of Social Security Claimant Representatives is an association of over 4,000 attorneys who represent Social Security and Supplemental Security Income Claimants.  You may reach them on the web at www.nosscr.org or by phone at 1-800-431-2804.  This information is being provided for your convenience and is not an endorsement of any particular attorney.

Where can I get free legal help with issues that are not related to my disability?

There are several places you can reach out to for free legal information including:

Montana Legal Services Association (MLSA): A web resource to help you find legal and social service resources in Tennessee. By phone, dial 1-800-666-6899 (Monday-Friday 9 a.m.-1 p.m.) to ask a non-criminal question to a licensed Montana attorney. Or fill out an online application.

Ask Karla: A private messaging service where volunteer attorneys answer civil legal questions for persons with low income.

MontanaLawHelp.org: A project of the Montana Legal Services Association providing legal information and resources for all Montanans.

You might be able to find a pro bono attorney to assist you through one of the following resources:

Legal Clinics: Ask MLSA if there is an upcoming clinic near you

Legal Aid OfficesSearch for your area’s legal aid office and other regional services

Modest Means Reduced Fee Program: Connect with attorneys who may be wiling to provide assistance for a lower cost.

Client’s Bill of RightsYour relationship with your lawyer is governed both by the agreement you make with the lawyer and by the laws and rules that govern the lawyer’s conduct.

Self-Representation: Montana Court Help Program: A free service provided by the Montana Supreme Court to assist people with civil, non-criminal legal problems. Our goal is to give you the information you need to understand your legal rights and responsibilities and to help you resolve your legal problems on your own if you cannot afford an attorney or if you choose not to hire one.

Self-Help Law Forms

Montana Citizen’s Guide to the courts: This guide for the Montana public explains how the courts and legal system work in our state.

How can I find out more about Community Resources?

Try calling 2-1-1 for Montana’s 2-1-1 service. Montana 2-1-1 is here to help connect Montanans with the community resources and assistance they need. A list of resources are provided on their website, or by calling 2-1-1 if you are away from a computer or don’t have access to the Internet. 2-1-1 provides callers with access to the following types of human services for everyday needs and times crisis. E.g. Food banks, clothing closets, shelters, rent assistance, mental health resources, employment supports, home health care, child care, and more.