National Alliance on Mental Illness
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Legal Resources

NAMI Helpline


Call the NAMI HelpLine at
1 (800) 950-6264 between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday.

Want to request a legal referral?

Call the HelpLine and ask to leave a message for the Legal Center.

There are many reasons why people living with mental illness may need legal information. A Social Security claim, a criminal matter, or issues related to the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) are some situations in which legal assistance may be useful. Use the legal resources below to help locate a lawyer or find information on a specific area of the law, such as Social Security.

Legal Referral Service

While NAMI does not have the resources to provide individual representation to each person who contacts us, we do offer a legal referral service to connect people with attorneys in their local areas. To request a referral, please call the NAMI HelpLine at 1 (800) 950-6264 Monday through Friday between the hours of 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. ET and ask to leave a message for the legal intern. A staff member will return your call within five business days.

Local Affiliates

Contact your NAMI State Organization or NAMI Local Affiliate for help. Our affiliates are a wonderful resource for community referrals and may have information about identifying an appropriate attorney. They also sponsor support groups and educational courses which provide a safe place to talk to other people going through similar situations.

General Legal Resources

These include directories of free legal assistance, help with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) issues like employment discrimination, and information on jail diversion and outpatient commitment.

Resource Offerings Contact
American Bar Association Online database of attorneys 1 (800) 285-2221
Directory for free legal assistance by state  
Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law
Information about mental health legislation (202) 467-5730
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
For complaints of disability employment discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) 1 (800) 669-4000
Joint Commission (JCAHO) Toll-Free Complaint Hotline To share concerns regarding quality of care (not billing) at a health care organization 1 (800) 994-6610
Legal Aid / local legal service agencies May assist those unable to pay for legal assistance (limitations often apply, such as no criminal cases) Check your local phone directory under "legal aid" or ask your local NAMI affiliate for legal aid resources near you
Legal Services Corporation
Civil legal aid to low-income Americans (202) 295-1500
National Disability Rights Network (NDRN)
Legal advocacy for individuals on subjects like abuse, health care accountability, education, employment, housing, transportation and interactions with the juvenile and criminal justice system  (202) 408-9514
National Guardianship Association
Information about guardianship or conservatorship
U.S. Department of Justice
Assistance with ADA concerns in state and local government and public accommodations 1 (800) 541-0301

Social Security Resources

Applying for—and eventually receiving—Social Security benefits can be a long process, but the good news is that you don't have to do it alone. Read NAMI's answers to frequently asked questions about Social Security benefits or consult the resources below for help. Getting good advice and following through on the appeals process can significantly improve your claim's chances.

Resource Offerings Contact
Specialized services for those living with disabilities nationwide, including Social Security Disability Insurance representation and Medicare plan selection services 1 (800) 279-4357 ext. 2020
Information about submitting claims and appeals  
National Association of Disability Representatives (NADR)

Referral lists of representatives who can help you with your claim 1 (800) 747-6131

National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives (NOSSCR)

Referral lists of representatives who can help you with your claim 1 (800) 431-2804
Social Security Administration Hotline Claims information—calling more than once to get several opinions may be helpful 1 (800) 772-1213

NAMI does not warrant or guarantee results of referrals from the NAMI Helpline. However, we use the Disability Directory of the American Bar Association, the Directory of the American Council of Trust and Estate Attorneys, the Directory of the Planned Lifetime Assistance Network, the Directory of the Legal Aid and Defender Offices and our own Directory of Mental Health Attorneys. We make our best effort to find legal support for people making inquiries to the NAMI Helpline.