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Tenured Staff Highlight: Spencer Lord, Hearing Representative, 36 Years at BT

Our Hearing Representative, Spencer Lord, joined Bet Tzedek in 1987 and has been with our organization for an astounding 36 years, with plans to retire this year. Since ’87, Spencer has consulted with over 9,600 Bet Tzedek clients and has also done legal counseling at all Bet Tzedek County Law program senior centers. Spencer received the Jack H. Skirball Community Justice Award at the 2007 Bet Tzedek Gala for his hard work, dedication, and mission-driven mindset.

Spencer Lord (middle)

When asked about his 36 years of service, Spencer explained, “I stayed at BT because of the people we served. I grew up in the projects in Far Rockaway, New York, which is a similar community to the communities that we service. I like the fight and the struggle of each case. I appreciate the legacy of our staff. They understand that each battle that we win makes our clients’ lives a little better.”

Spencer walks us through his journey from his first days at Bet Tzedek through present day:

  1. I was hired on December 21, 1987 as the first paralegal for the Los Angeles County Law Program. Since 1987, I have consulted with over 9,600 Bet Tzedek clients. I have done legal counseling at all 16 of the Bet Tzedek County Law program senior centers.
  2. October 1990: I was called to active duty to serve in the army during Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm (Gulf war). I was only on active duty until February 1991. I served 22 years in the U.S. Army Reserves and active duty.
  3. January 19, 1995: I became a Notary Public of the State of California until February 2023.
  4. June and July 1999: I began, along with Deborah Baldwin, presenting an annual training to the BT staff and summer law students on Social Security Title II and SSI overpayments and SSI disability benefits.
  5. February 18, 2000: I began presenting an annual Veterans Affairs (VA) training to the BT staff about the different benefits from Department of Veterans Affairs and the United States military.
  6. May 2001: I began to represent James Mims, a Dodgers ticket taker, at Dodger Stadium in Social Security overpayment case. Administrative Law Judge awarded Mr. Mims a waiver of the overpayment.
  7. 2006: I became the advocate for the Senior Paralegal Project. I provided services at senior centers in West Adams and South Central.
  8. August 1, 2005: I started to represent a 22-month infant, Kevin Johnson, in an SSI disability case. He suffered from severe asthma. Administrative Law Judge awarded him SSI disability benefits.
  9. January 31, 2007: I was named recipient of the inaugural Jack H. Skirball Community Justice Award.
  10. 2008: I transitioned from being a paralegal to a Hearing Representative.
  11. November 15, 2010: I began to represent Navy veteran, Harvey Honoroff, in his SSDI disability case. I suffered from depression and combat-related PTSD. I rated at 100% by VA for VA compensation disability. Despite this, I represented at two SSA Disability hearings and two SSA remand. I was going to represent in a third disability hearing but he moved back to Ohio in 2020. Also, I was able to assist in getting his student loans discharged.
  12. 2016: I assisted 101-year-old Fannie King in a case where a home alarm company coerced her into entering a five years home alarm contract. We were able to get the alarm company to recede the contract and refund any money that she paid to the company.
  13. August 29, 2017: I passed the Department of Veterans Affairs Accreditation examination to become an independent Accredited Veteran Claim Agent. As an Accredited Veteran Claim Agent, I can prepare and present claims for veterans, their spouses, and their children before the Department of Veterans Affairs. I am presently the only independent accredited VA claim agent in the City of Los Angeles and one of 26 independent claims agents in the State of California.
  14. 2017: I assisted 105-year-old, Enda Green, in an install carpet case with Empire Carpet. The Empire installed dirt and used carpet in her home. I was able to get Empire to remove dirt carpet, install new carpet, and refund any money she paid for the carpet.
  15. 2019: I assisted 103-year-old Hunter Williams and his wife, Bessie Williams, in ID theft case where the ID theft was committed by their daughter, granddaughter, and son-in-law. They used the stolen IDs to purchase cars from Toyota, get traffic/parking tickets, and obtain credit cards. I was able to get Toyota to recede the car contacts, get the DMV to remove their names from the car registrations, get the Parking Bureaus to recede the tickets, and clear the credit card debts from their credit record.
  16. September 2020: I prepared and issued a guide on the BT Website, “SSI Overpayment: A Self-Help Guide for Supplemental Security Income Beneficiaries.”
  17. 2024: I am working on my last VA disability case with Navy veteran, Larry Jones. We have been able to get him awarded a disability compensation rating of 40% for scoliosis in his back. He was able to get a remand from the Court of Veterans Appeals where they ordered the VA to re-examine his VA pension claim. I represented him back in 2011 and was able get him awarded Title II SSA disability benefits for his back. I am now using the SSA disability claim records and his present medical record to try to get him VA Unemployable benefits where he would be awarded VA disability compensation at 100%.

Thank you, Spencer, for your important and amazing contributions to our 50 Years of Justice for All!