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Clinic offers free legal help to eugenics victims, answers important questions

From the good people at the UNC Law School Center for Civil Rights — pass it along:

If you or a family member was a victim on North Carolina’s forced sterilization program, you may be eligible for compensation from the state. The deadline for filing a claim for compensation under the Eugenics and Asexualization and Sterilization Compensation Program is June 30, 2014. The UNC Center for Civil Rights, along with other volunteer lawyers, are providing free assistance to those filing claims. We encourage victims and their families to call us with questions about eligibility and how to fill out the claims form. We also encourage victims and their families to attend one of the free clinics we are conducting with help from the NAACP, local churches and community leaders, during which we will provide additional information and assist in filing claims.

  • Thursday, May 22, 10am-1pm at the Lucille W. Gorham Intergenerational Community Center, corner of 5th and Tyson St., Greenville, NC
  • Thursday, May 29, 10am-1pm at the Martin Street Baptist Church, 1001 East Martin St. Raleigh, NC

Clinics will also occur in Mecklenburg and Hertford Counties on June 5 and June 12, times and locations to be publicized soon. Below are answers to frequently asked questions we have received about the process:

Q: Where can I get the claims form?
A: You can download the form at http://www.sterilizationvictims.nc.gov/, or call the Office of Justice at 1-877-550-6013 or 919-807-4270.

Q: Who is eligible for compensation?
A: Living victims of the program are eligible, as well as the heirs of deceased victims so long as the victim was alive on June 30, 2013.

Q: How can I get help filling out the form?
A: Call the Center for Civil Rights at 919-445-0176. Leave a message if there is no answer and we will call you back as soon as possible.

Q: The Office of Justice for Sterilization Victims sent me a form to fill out, but I’ve already filled out a similar form and submitted it months ago. Do I need to fill out this latest form to file a claim?
A: Yes. Over the past years, you may have contacted the Office of Justice with a request for information to determine whether you or a family member was a victim of the program. That request for information is not the same as filing a claim. Even though the claim form requires much of the same information as the request for information form, you still need to submit the most recent claim form to be eligible for payment.

Q: Do I need to fill out all sections of the form?
A: Depending on your situation, you may not need to fill out all sections of the form. Contact the Center for Civil Rights at 919-445-0176 for help.

Q: Do I need to include a General Power of Attorney or Letters of Appointment as Guardian?
A: Yes, if you are filing on behalf of a living victim who is incompetent.

Q: Do I need to include Letters Testamentary or Letters of Administration?
A: If you are a family member filing on behalf of a victim that is deceased, and there was an estate opened in court at the time of the victim’s death in order to dispose of his or her property by a will, then you will need to file these additional documents. If the victim died without a will and no estate was opened in court, or if you have questions about these estate forms, contact the Center for Civil Rights for help before submitting the claims form.

Q: How should I deliver the form to the Office of Justice?
A: Mail the form by certified mail, return receipt requested. You will receive a postcard back with the signature of the person who received your claim and the date it was received. Keep this postcard, as well as a copy of your claim form, in a safe place for your records.

Q: When will I receive compensation, and how much will it be?
A: The NC Legislature set aside $10 million to split evenly amongst all eligible claimants. The NC Industrial Commission will determine which and how many claimants are eligible for compensation, and payment will be made on June 30, 2015. You have the right to appeal and decision from the Industrial Commission denying your claim. If you receive notice that your claim was denied or saying you are not eligible for compensation, contact the Center for Civil Rights immediately.

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