Press Release: Jan 2024 | News, Press & Media

Exploring Partnership Opportunities: Enhancing Legal Aid through Innovative Technology

In a legal landscape marked by disparities in access to crucial services, “QDRO Assist" emerges as a beacon of hope, poised to bridge gaps in legal assistance. The mobile application, developed by the Center for Access to QDROs (“Center”), seeks to revolutionize how indigent individuals navigate the complexities of divorce-related retirement benefit divisions. This presentation outlines a compelling proposal to secure sponsorship under the Technology Initiative Grant program (TIG), administered by the Legal Services Corporation (LSC), positioning QDRO Assist as a powerful solution for those falling below 200% of the federal poverty level.

The Center is the first program of its kind in the nation. There are over 2 million divorces a year in the U.S. However, there are only approximately 40 retirement benefit division professionals in the nation providing QDRO services for charge. There are no systematic programs available for low-income persons who need a QDRO.

Currently, laws protecting spouses who have a community or marital interest in a retirement plan are practical for the prosperous but theoretical for the indigent and self-represented. The baseline for QDRO services for low-income litigants is often, as a Center partner recently put it, “referring clients to nowhere.” The Program can change this paradigm and disrupt how retirement division at divorce is conducted (or, more accurately, not conducted) for low-income persons. Federal judges must swear or affirm that they will “do equal right to the poor and to the rich.”

QDRO Assist is an opportunity to utilize technology to ensure that, at least when it comes to the division of retirement benefits at divorce, the poor and the rich receive that “equal right” older people, whose need for retirement funds is especially acute. The Program’s primary goal is to ensure that the laws already on the books to protect a spouse with a community or marital interest in a retirement plan are utilized and enforced especially for low-income.

The Technology Initiative Grant (TIG) program

The Technology Initiative Grant (TIG) program, a flagship initiative fostering technological advancements in legal services, provides a unique opportunity for innovative projects like QDRO Assist. As we delve into this presentation, our purpose is crystal clear – to seek sponsorship and support for QDRO Assist, a mobile application with the potential to revolutionize legal services provision. The alignment of QDRO Assist with the TIG program's goals makes it a compelling candidate for sponsorship, marking a significant step toward a more inclusive and accessible legal landscape.

QDRO Assist is not merely an app; it's a transformative force designed to empower vulnerable populations. With a clear focus on individuals below 200% of the federal poverty level, QDRO Assist reaches across diverse sectors – private companies, public institutions, state and federal government agencies, and the U.S. Military. This inclusive approach ensures that no one is left behind in the pursuit of fair and accessible legal services.