Terry West Civil Legal Clinic - The University of Tulsa
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Terry West Civil Legal Clinic

The Terry West Civil Legal Clinic is supported by the Sarkeys Foundation. It addresses access to justice for marginalized communities in Tulsa, with a particular focus on the intersection of legal needs within these communities. While serving individual clients, students also engage more broadly with the justice system and structural access to justice barriers. The clinic explores different mechanisms of advocacy, including court observations, fact-finding and reporting, impact litigation, and legislative advocacy. Students may also create know your rights materials and presentations.

The seminar and clinic work teach lawyering skills and explore the ethical, practical, theoretical, and strategic issues around legal advocacy and the lived experiences of individuals from marginalized communities. Students gain lawyering skills, including interviewing and counseling clients, fostering a lawyer-client relationship that empowers the client, developing factual and legal arguments, drafting legal briefs, and oral argument and advocacy. They also explore issues of professional responsibility, the role of the justice system in the lives of marginalized communities, their role as lawyers within this system, and ways to advocate both inside and outside of the courtroom.

Discrimination and Implicit Bias in the Courtroom

Two advanced clinic students, Shawnee Arrington and William Woolston, created this report for the Access to Justice (ATJ) Commission in support of its proposed Anti-Discrimination Resolution. The report highlights instances of discrimination and implicit bias in Oklahoma’s courts and the need for implicit bias training for court and judicial staff. Shawnee Arrington presented the report at the April 22, 2022, ATJ Commission meeting.

Changing the Game: Eliminating Inequities in Oklahoma’s Rental Law

Growing out of their response to HB 1564, which would have exacerbated Oklahoma’s already high eviction rates, spring 2021 Terry West Civil Legal Clinic students highlighted the inequities in the current Landlord Tenant Act. Their report describes how the legislation creates a rental landscape characterized by high eviction rates, a lack of safe and affordable housing stock, reliance on eviction as a profit-making mechanism and exploitation of the law by out-of-state landlords, illustrating how these factors harm tenants, local landlords and all Oklahomans.

Leveling the Playing Field in Tulsa’s Eviction Docket

During fall 2020, students in the Terry West Civil Legal Clinic continued to explore avenues of advocacy around Tulsa’s high eviction rate. Building on the clinic’s earlier report describing access to justice barriers on Tulsa’s eviction docket, students focused on the issue of access to counsel in eviction proceedings. Their report, Leveling the Playing Field, shows that representation is essential in order to advance justice, uphold due process and ensure people are able to take advantage of relief measures linked to the COVID-19 crisis. It also points to the cost savings from access to counsel programs and highlights the toll that eviction takes not just on those who are displaced, but also on neighborhoods, communities and public resources.

Advancing Housing Justice in Tulsa

Students in the spring 2020 semester explored their role as lawyers in developing an effective advocacy strategy to address Tulsa’s high eviction rate, which ranks 11th in the country. Students observed eviction proceedings and decided to conduct an in-depth data analysis of the eviction docket to quantify the injustices they were observing. Combining their observations and data analysis, the clinic released a report highlighting procedural irregularities, access to justice barriers, power imbalances between landlords and tenants, and legal ethics concerns at the eviction docket. The report has informed broader advocacy efforts around eviction practices, courtroom processes, and legislative reforms to improve access to justice for marginalized communities.

Read the full report here: Advancing Housing Justice in Tulsa: An Examination of the Fed Docket, June 8, 2020


  • Know Your Rights Videos and Info

    Created by Students in the Spring 2021 Terry West Civil Legal Clinic: Caitlin Barrett, Austin Canfield, Sherrod Donnelly, Genny Hickman, Rachel Johnson, Edward Park, Jacob Weideman & Austin Witt

    Created by Students in the Fall 2020 Terry West Civil Legal Clinic: Teiya Batien, Lauren Beatty, Quinn Fields, Christopher Stout & Kaitlyn Sweatt

    Created by Students in the Spring 2020 Terry West Civil Legal Clinic: Joel Auringer, Sage Martin, Josh McCann, Alex Myers & Vic Wiener

  • Discrimination and Implicit Bias in the Courtroom

    Shawnee Arrington and William Woolston Terry West Civil Legal Clinic


    Courts across the country are adopting non-discrimination measures. Texas courts, for example, have required implicit bias training for judges since 2001 and are considering adding an annual training. A 2020 ABA resolution urged states to adopt mandatory implicit bias training for lawyers, judges, commissioners, referees, probation officers, and court personnel.1 A February 2022 resolution expanded this training to law students, requiring law schools to provide education on bias, cross-cultural competency, and racism.2 Such anti-discrimination measures not only reduce discrete instances of discrimination within the courts, but also help build trust with communities who may be more skeptical of the fairness of our judicial system.

    Court and judicial staff in Oklahoma’s justice system could similarly benefit from anti-discrimination measures, including implicit bias training. Below is a snapshot of the ways in which implicit bias leads to discrimination in Oklahoma’s courts. They include bias based on minority status, culture, socioeconomic status, mental health, and appearance, as well as failures to comply with laws protecting marginalized groups. The examples below are taken from court observations and interviews with lawyers who work in multiple jurisdictions across the state.


    A. Experiences of Attorneys from Minority Communities

    Attorneys of color were repeatedly questioned about their identity and role at the court:

    • Court personnel assumed they were defendants.
    • They were forced to show bar licenses to enter the courthouse and courtroom while white attorneys were not.
    • They were forced to empty their bags and allow officers to search their person after going through security.
    • Attorneys wearing culturally representative attire were assumed to be parties in the case.
    • They received comments about how they carry themselves or are dressed.
    • They were threatened with contempt for seeking to enforce the Indian Child Welfare Act.
    • They were questioned about sitting in the front row of the courtroom, a section reserved for attorneys.

    1American Bar Association, Resolution 116G, August 2020, https://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/directories/policy/annual-2020/116g-annual-2020.pdf.

    2American Bar Association, Resolution 300, February 2022, https://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/directories/policy/midyear-2022/300-midyear-2022.pdf.

    Specific reported or observed examples of bias against attorneys from minority communities include:

    • An attorney reported being stopped at the doors of the courtroom and forced to show their bar license, empty out their bag, and allow the officer to search their person, despite having already gone through security.
    • A Native American attorney who works on civil cases is routinely assumed to be a Tribal or U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) representative.
    • An African American attorney was assumed to be a public interest attorney. The judge did not believe he worked for a prestigious private firm and insisted on confirming his identity from the Entry of Appearance.

    B. Experiences of Litigants from Marginalized Communities

    The following examples are based on interviews and court observations:

    • Litigants from marginalized communities are assumed to be defendants.
    • Litigants who are not dressed “nice” are treated as defendants.
    • Litigants from marginalized groups are not allowed to speak in their hearing or stay in the courtroom.
    • Litigants from marginalized groups are the last allowed in the courtroom and are all grouped together.
    • Litigants are prevented from raising issues of bias or prejudice as a defense.
    • Poor litigants experienced bias based on their socioeconomic status, including being identified as the losing party before a hearing and being told they were not entitled to complain because they were on government assistance.
    • Litigants with mental health issues are discriminated against and denied access to legal protections. In one case, a mental health claim was dismissed even though federal law provided protection on this basis in the case.
    • Parties are not allowed to rely on their own interpreters even when court-approved interpreters are not present.

    Specific reported or observed examples of bias against litigants from marginalized communities include:

    • A court staff member fat-shamed a woman for being unable to make it up the courthouse stairs quickly enough. When the woman attempted to report this to the judge, the judge responded by participating in the fat-shaming.
    • A woman was yelled at to remove her hijab and ended up leaving the courtroom instead.
    • A woman of color and her attorney were in the courtroom awaiting their trial. The judge sent them out of the courtroom and a few minutes later issued a default judgment.
    • A court official categorized a person of color as “just another one of those upset because we’re all white.”
    • An individual experiencing a mental health incident was removed from the courtroom and then had a default judgment issued against them.


    These examples point to the need for concrete anti-discrimination measures.

    Lawyers and judges, even those with the best intentions, are not immune to implicit bias. The first step in reducing discrimination is implicit bias training, which includes training that explains the insidious nature of implicit bias, as well as giving actionable steps to help reduce its effects on the day-to-day processes within our courts. There are various in person and remote implicit bias trainings. We have provided a short list of available resources on the following page.


    ABA Judicial Division – Fighting Implicit Bias

    The Joint Committee on Fighting Implicit Bias in the Justice System, with representatives from the ABA Judicial Division, Section on Litigation, and Criminal Justice Section works on promoting fairness and improving the administration of justice by bringing judges, courts, lawyers, academia, and community groups together on a national scale to advance citizen understanding and support for the justice system on the one hand and better administration of justice for all on the other.

    ABA Implicit Bias Initiative Toolbox

    The ABA Section on Litigation has developed this Toolbox for use in exploring implicit bias and approaches to “debiasing.”

    Building Community Trust Model Curriculum and Instruction Manual

    Developed as a Joint Project of the ABA Criminal Justice Section, Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities, and Council on Racial and Ethnic Justice.

    National Center for State Courts Toolbox

    NCSC prepared an updated resource for the court community to summarize the current state of the continually maturing science on implicit bias as of March 2021. This report replaces NCSC’s 2012 report, Helping Courts Address Implicit Bias: Resources for Education.

    Association of American Law Students (AALS) Law Deans Antiracist Clearinghouse Project

    The Association of American Law Schools has a variety of resources available including articles, books, studies, videos, and trainings.

    A variety of commercial trainings and private consultants are also available.

  • Know Your Rights: Tenant Rights, Obligations, and the Eviction Process

    Oklahoma Tenant Information

    The information below is based on the Oklahoma Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (current 2020)

    Basic Obligations

    • Tenants must comply with the lease agreement.
    • Tenants must not participate in criminal or drug related activity.
    • Tenants must keep the premises clean and safe.
    • Tenants must not allow anything to be done that would disturb other tenants.

    Tenant Lease Obligations

    • A tenant can be evicted if they engage with material noncompliance of the lease and it affects the health or safety of others.
    • If harm to the property is imminent, then the landlord may terminate immediately and initiate eviction proceedings.

    Security Deposits

    • A landlord can require a security deposit.
    • In order to receive their security deposit, a tenant must request the return of the money in writing within six months after the lease has ended.
    • The landlord has to return the security deposit within 45 days of receipt of the request.

    Landlord Right to Enter

    • The Landlord must give you at least 24 hours’ notice to enter your home or apartment.
    • They may enter only during a reasonable time, unless it is an emergency, like a fire, a flood or to make emergency repairs.
    • You must allow your landlord to enter your apartment for usual inspections, repairs, and for other reasonable purposes.

    Home Repair Rights

    • Determine the reasonable cost of the repair.
    • If the reasonable cost is $100 or less, the tenant can provide the landlord with written notice, repair the issue, then deduct the cost from next month’s rent.
    • The tenant can provide the landlord notice that if the repair is not done within 14 days, the tenant can move out within 30 days and not pay any more rent.
    • If the property is, or becomes “unlivable” or “uninhabitable,” or is dangerous, the tenant may give the landlord written notice of the problem and move out right away.
    • Refer to the below slideshow for additional information regarding utilities.

    Termination of Lease Rights

    • Determine if your lease is on a yearly basis, a monthly basis, or a week to week basis.
    • Tenancy notice is determined by what type of lease you have.
    • If you are behind in your rent, your landlord must give you at least a 5 day written notice. If you do not pay the rent you owe within five days, the landlord can initiate eviction proceedings. The Landlord can then file an eviction action against you in court.

    Notice Rights

    • If you are evicted, the sheriff will post a notice on your door. You only have 48 hours to remove your property.
    • If you leave any property behind, you must pay the landlord what you owe before you can get your property back.

    Watch Basic Tenant Rights and Obligations


    Eviction Court Process

    Below is information about before eviction proceedings, court processes on the day of the eviction proceedings, and about hallway negotiations.

    Basic Tenant Information Before Court

    What Causes Evictions

    • Failure to pay rent (most common reason).
    • Damage to the property.
    • Repeated or severe violation of apartment rules.
    • Possession of illegal drugs.
    • Committing a crime.
    • Housing more people than the lease allows.
    • Failure to maintain water and electric service.

    Landlord-Tenant Requirements

    • A lease is a contract between you and the landlord.
    • Tenants usually may not withhold rent when it’s due, even if there is something that needs repair in the unit.
    • Landlords cannot evict because you have late fees.
    • Landlords cannot shut off utilities to force you to leave.
    • Landlords can evict you for failure to pay rent or other major or repeated violations of the lease.

    If the Landlord Evicts You

    • Landlords cannot remove you from your home without going through the court system.
    • A “forcible entry and detainer” action will be issued by the landlord to try to remove you.

    Eviction Service & Notice

    • A landlord must provide proper service.
    • This will include a copy of the summons and when and where to go for your court date.
    • Landlords can mail you a notice or post it on your door.
    • DO NOT ignore this court summons.

    Getting to Court

    • If you receive a summons, it is essential that you go to court.
    • You will be evicted if you do not appear on your court date and your landlord or their attorney appears.
    • If you do not appear, a default judgment will occur and you may also be ordered to pay what you owe the landlord.

    Watch General Eviction Process in Oklahoma


    Day of Court Information

    Background Eviction Court Information*

    • The Tulsa County Courthouse is located at 500 S Denver Ave.
    • There are two entrances. The main entrance faces the library and the other faces Denver Ave.
    • The eviction court is Room 112 on the first floor.
    • The eviction docket starts at 2:00 pm
    • Make sure to arrive early and to be seated in the courtroom to avoid a default judgment in the favor of the landlord.
    • Checklist


    *Court locations and docket times have changed during the COVID-19 crisis. Please check the Tulsa County District Court for the most up-to-date information. You can also lookup your case information and hearing date and time on OSCN.

    In the Courtroom

    • The Judge will arrive around 2:00 pm and will give a short introduction about procedures.
    • The Judge will then match landlords and tenants.
    • The Judge may assign a mediator to your case.
    • Alternately, landlords and/or their attorneys and tenants will be directed into the hallway to try and to come to an agreement.
    • Often there will be Legal Aid, Still, She Rises, and other organizations offering free legal service there to help you with your case.

    If Evicted

    • If landlords are granted possession of the property, the landlord must file an eviction execution.
    • After filing the paperwork, a Deputy Sheriff will be assigned to post the Eviction Notice at the residence. Once it has been posted, Oklahoma Law requires a minimum of 48 hours to be given to any and all occupants before they will be removed.
    • A tenant may ask the judge to stay or delay the eviction to allow the tenant additional time to leave the property.
    • The tenant may also appeal the eviction order to the district court.

    Watch Court Eviction Process


    Eviction Court Hallway Information

    What to Expect

    • You will see other tenants negotiating with landlords and their attorneys.
    • You may also see pro bono attorneys working for tenants.
    • You may have to wait a long time to speak to your landlord or their attorney,
    • DO NOT leave without speaking to your landlord or their attorney. Otherwise, the judge may enter into a default judgment in favor of the landlord.

    Caution When Negotiating

    • The landlord’s attorney is there to represent the best interest of the landlord.
    • The landlord or their attorney will try to negotiate the best deal for them.
    • The landlord’s attorney may use legal terms that you do not understand or may try to intimidate you.
    • The landlord’s attorney may also have a non-attorney assistant with them. Be careful when speaking with these individuals.

    Important Information

    • Do not sign anything without reading it.
    • You are not required to make a deal.
    • You have the right to have your case heard before the Judge.

    Pro Bono Attorneys

    • These attorneys represent the tenant’s best interest.
    • Tell them as much relevant information as possible.
    • After you begin working with an attorney, it is illegal for your landlord’s attorney to speak to you without your attorney present.


    • Any issues with the property such as plumbing or heating and air conditioning problems should be discussed.
    • Also, mention any ideas on reaching a payment plan or other options to allow you to stay on the property.

    After an Agreement

    • Do not leave the court until your agreement has been approved by the Judge.
    • Get copies of signed documents.
    • Follow through with the terms of your agreement.

    Watch Hallway Negotiations: Know Your Rights


    Eviction Reform in Oklahoma

    Oklahoma faces an eviction crisis. According to 2016 data collected by the Eviction Lab, the city of Tulsa is the 11th highest evicting city in America. It evicts roughly  7.77 out of every 100 renters per year.

    Data on other Oklahoma cities from the Eviction Lab:

    • Oklahoma City national ranking: 20, eviction rate: 6.19%
    • Norman national ranking: 83, eviction rate 3.47%
    • Broken Arrow national ranking: 90, eviction rate 3.32%

    For more information on nationwide eviction data, visit evictionlab.org.

    Evictions in Action

    Most evictions are based on overdue rent. Evictions must be implemented through the court process. Self-help evictions, which include changing locks, removing physical belongings, shutting off utilities, or other forms of intimidation are unlawful.

    Evictions also may not proceed if the landlord failed to provide proper notice, if the Limited Liability Company (LLC) is not in good standing, or if done solely in retaliation for tenant complaints.

    Tenants should familiarize themselves with their rights and seek legal assistance where possible. In addition to the loss of a home, evictions may result in monetary liability. An eviction filing, in addition to an eviction judgment, also may show up on a person’s credit history, making it difficult to rent housing.


    Addressing Oklahoma’s housing crisis requires efforts both inside and outside of the courtroom. These include:

    • Increased education about the eviction process.
    • Community building around tenant advocacy.
    • Universal civil legal representation.
    • Reforms to the Residential Landlord-Tenant Act

    For more information on the eviction court proceedings and suggested reforms, see the June 2020 report by the Terry West Civil Legal Clinic: Advancing Housing Justice in Tulsa: An Examination of the FED Docket  

    For additional resources and information, go to:

  • Know Your Rights: Cost Docket


    If you are arrested or convicted of a crime, you may be ordered to pay money to the court. The cost docket handles fines, fees, and costs associated with your case. The cost docket conducts hearings in which the judge and the individual who owes fines and fees set up a method for the person to pay their fines and fees.


    You can request to be on the cost docket! The judge can help by working with you to make a payment plan that is best suited for you, schedule work hours, or develop an alternative plan.

    You may also be assigned to the cost docket if you are arrested for or convicted of a criminal offense or have unpaid traffic tickets.

    In some cases, there may be additional benefits of being on the cost docket, including having your fines and fees reduced by the judge just for attending court!


    You can find out the exact amount that you owe by attending your court hearings. If your address is current, you may get paperwork stating what you owe in the mail. If not, you can call or visit Cost Administration at the Tulsa County Court Clerk
, 500 South Denver Avenue, 
Room 200
, Tulsa, Oklahoma 74103-3832
, (918) 596-5482.


    For certain cases/offenses, payments can be made online at oscn.net under the ‘e-payments tab’. 
You can also pay your fines and fees by check, cash, or credit card at court in the Cost Administration office located on the 2nd floor of the Tulsa County Courthouse, or by phone or mail.


    If you have unpaid fines and fees, there may be a warrant issued for your arrest. If this happens, be aware that law enforcement may arrest you even if you have not committed any new crime (i.e. you could be pulled over and arrested). After you have been placed on the cost docket, if you make no payments towards your fines and fees and do not attend your court hearings, the judge may issue a warrant for your arrest.

  • Know Your Rights: Emancipation


    Emancipation confers the rights of majority (a legal adult) upon a minor. This means an emancipated minor will be treated the same as an adult when making contracts and transacting other business. Emancipated minors may also be sued and are responsible for any debts incurred, such as medical debt.

    Being emancipated does not mean that an emancipated minor may legally drink alcohol, buy tobacco products, or vote!


    You will need to complete & give the court the following forms:

    • Petition – this form will need to be notarized
    • Notice of Hearing – this is to set a date for the court to hear your petition
    • Decree – this is the court’s decision on your petition, but you must still fill it out
    • Certificate of Mailing – this is to make sure that the documents were properly mailed and received
    • Affidavit and Waiver of Notice* – these are for if your parent or guardian consents to the emancipation; they will also need to be notarized


    • You’ll need a job and source of income
      • In addition to being a generally useful tool, creating a monthly budget might support your petition for emancipation, as it shows the judge that you have a financial plan
    • Open a bank account with checking and savings accounts
    • Consider creating an emergency fund if you haven’t done so already (3 to 8 months worth of your monthly expenses)
    • Get a credit card to start building your credit
    • You’ll need car insurance if you own a vehicle. If possible, get insurance (health, renters)


    $193.14 (this covers the cost of notice and publication)

    A next friend may be a friend’s parent with whom you are staying or another adult or relative. There is no special requirement to become a next friend other than being at least 18 years old. Parents/guardians can file for their children/wards as next friends.
    Because you are not old enough to file a lawsuit, you need a next friend to file your application. They need to sign and file your petition and attend court with you.

    The Terry West Civil Legal Clinic has created a video which includes additional information about the emancipation process.

    If you are experiencing parental abuse, talk to a trusted adult at your school or elsewhere about available options and seek legal assistance if you wish to be emancipated.


    • You’ll be treated as a legal adult
    • You can sign contracts, medical forms, etc.
    • You can make your own decisions
    • You can start a business on your own
    • You can rent an apartment
    • You can decide what to do with your earnings
    • You don’t need your parents to complete a FAFSA form for college


    • You’ll be legally obligated under contracts
    • You’ll most likely lose the right to be covered by your parent’s health insurance
    • The process of emancipation can be expensive
    • You’ll need to be self-sufficient and live on your own
    • The process can take 3 to 4 weeks or longer

    Emancipation Instructions and Checklist (PDF document)

    Emancipation Sample Packet (PDF document)

    Emancipation Fillable Form (Fillable PDF document)

    Watch Emancipation: Know Your Rights


  • Know Your Rights: Employment Rights in Oklahoma


    • If you are not paid a salary, you should be paid every two weeks.
    • Minimum wage= $7.25/hour
    • Payment may be made through various methods such as direct deposit, paper check, a debit card, or cash.


    • Your workplace is required to be safe under the  Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
    • You shouldn’t be required to perform tasks that could get you hurt or sick.
    • To file a complaint go to: www.osha.gov

    Watch Know Your Employment Rights: Young Workers in Oklahoma



    • $7.25/hour
    • Minimum wage applies to training employees as well
    • Some job positions are exempt from this minimum wage rule. See the Department of Labor website, www.dol.gov, for more information.


    • Oklahoma follows time and a half pay (one and a half times) an employee’s normal amount.
    • The minimum wage for overtime hours is $10.88/hour.


    • Oklahoma state tipping minimum wage is $2.13/hour.
    • Employers can pay this amount as long as the employee earns enough in tips to bring their total hourly wage to at leas the state minimum wage.
    • Tipped employees can be required to perform non-tipped tasks.


    • Prohibits employers from purposely paying women at a rate less than the rate at which it pays men for comparable work on jobs requiring comparable skill, effort, and responsibility.
    • Permissible based on: seniority, merit, or a system that measures earnings on any factor other than sex.

    Watch Worker’s Financial Rights



    • Oklahoma restricts the hours worked by 14-15 years old minors but not 16-17 years old minors.
    • Break policies also differ based on age group. For instance, Oklahoma has mandatory break laws for youths under the age of 16.
    • Company policy dictates breaks and lunch periods for everyone age 16 years or older.


    • If the employer ends your employment, the employer has to pay the employee’s wages in full unless there is a disagreement on what wages are owed.
    • Payment should be made through regular payment channels or through mail.
    • Seek legal advice if you believe your former employer is withholding money owed to you.

    Watch Know Your Rights: Employment Discrimination


    Tulsa Curfew and Teenage Work


    • The purpose of the curfew is to protect youths from dangers, to promote parental supervision and to reduce criminal activity and protect the public.


    • Applies to those under 18 years old.
    • Sunday-Thursday: 11pm-6am
    • Friday-Saturday: 12am-6am
    • Friends,18 and over, do not count as parental supervision.


    • Violation of curfew may result in a fine no more than $200 excluding costs.
    • You may also be subjected to community service.

    Watch Curfew for Young People: City of Tulsa

  • Know Your Rights: Disability Benefits


    Supplemental Security Income is a federally funded program that provides individuals who are disabled and meet financial requirements with monetary assistance.

    Be aware that you are ineligible for SSI if: you have an outstanding warrant for your arrest, you are in jail, you are a non-citizen who fails to meet certain requirements, or you leave the country for more than thirty (30) days.


    • The disability must completely impair your ability to work and must be expected to last longer than one (1) year. You must also demonstrate that your disability makes it impossible for you to work. Be aware that a short-term or partial disability does not qualify you for SSI.
    • If you are under the age of 18, or 22 if you are a college student, you may count the income and assets of your parents. You will need to re-apply at age 18.


    • If you are over the age of 65 and meet the income and asset requirements, you may qualify. If you are over 65, you are not required to have a disability.


    • If you’re single, you must earn $750/month or less and have less than $2,000 in assets. If you’re married, you must earn $1,200/month or less and have less than $3,000 in assets.
    • Countable income includes ‘earned income’, such as a job, ‘unearned’, such as unemployment benefits or retirement, ‘deemed’, which is income from a spouse, parent, or sponsor, and money in checking or savings accounts. 
    • Income that is not counted includes SNAP benefits, grants or scholarships, loans, assistance from your tribe, tax refunds or credits, or your home + 1 car.
    • You may apply in person, by mail, phone, or online. You will need to provide information about yourself, your medical condition(s), and your work.

    Supplemental Security Income (SSI) (PDF document)

    Watch Supplemental Security Income: Know Your Rights



    Social Security Disability Insurance is an insurance program designed to provide income assistance to individuals with permanent or long-term disabilities who also have a qualifying work history.


    • You must prove that you are unable to work (your old job or a new job) and have paid taxes into the Social Security System in the last ten (10) years. Typically, you must have worked five (5) of the last ten (10) years. You can qualify through work history of your spouse/parents.


    • On average, the application process takes three to five months. Many applications are denied at first, so strongly consider working with an attorney, as appeals can take years. You’ll need to provide information about yourself, your disability, and your work history.


    • You can work while receiving SSDI
    • Individuals are limited to receiving $1,260/month
    • After two (2) years of receiving SSDI, you will automatically qualify for Medicare

    Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) (PDF document)

    Watch Social Security Disability Insurance: Know Your Rights



    • Eligibility requirements
    • When you can begin to receive benefits
    • The average monthly benefit
    • The maximum benefit
  • Know Your Rights: Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP)


    The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps, is a federally funded program that provides nutritional assistance to low income individuals and families.


    • SNAP benefits are provided to the household
    • For SNAP purposes, a household includes everyone who lives, buys groceries, and eats together
    • Once an application is approved, you will receive an ACCESS Oklahoma Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card, which will allow you to purchase SNAP-approved items
    • You will receive notices detailing how long you have been approved for SNAP and when you need to re-certify


    You Must:

    • Be a U.S. citizen/document person*
    • Meet work requirements
    • Be working/participating in a work program for at least 20hrs./wk.
    • Meet income standards
    • Have the social security numbers of all members of the SNAP household


    In order for non-citizens to receive SNAP, you must have:

    • Lived in U.S. for 5+ years; or receive disability-related assistance or benefits; or be under 18 years of age; and
    • Provide documents that show lawful immigration status


    • You must meet both gross and net income limits unless your household includes elderly or disabled member(s)
    • Gross income = household’s total income before deductions
    • Net income = gross income minus allowable deductions
    • To receive SNAP, you must have <$2,250 in countable resources (cash/bank account) or $3,500 if (60+ or disabled)


    If you are between the ages of 18 and 50 and are able bodied, there are work requirements.

    To meet these requirements, you must either:

    • Register for work; or
    • Not quit/reduce hours; or
    • Accept job offers; or
    • Participate in employment & training programs
    • Adults without dependents must either work or participate in a work program for at least 20-30 hrs./wk.

    Exemptions to these requirements:

    • Those taking care of children 6 or under or an incapacitated person
    • Those regularly participating in drug/alcohol treatment program
    • Those studying in school or training programs at least half time
    • Children
    • Seniors
    • Pregnant women
    • People exempt for physical/mental health reason

    Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) (PDF document)

    Watch Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program: Know Your Rights

  • Know Your Rights: Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)


    Temporary Assistance for Needy Families is a federally funded program that offers cash assistance to families with low incomes


    1. There must be children under 18 in the home & they must be Oklahoma residents
    2. There must be a deprivation of parental support due to absence, death, incapacity, or chronic unemployment of 1 or both biological parents
    3. You must agree to pursue child support from the absent parent unless good cause is shown not to do so
    4. You must agree to drug screening & testing policies
    5. You must agree to participate in an education or work training program for at least 30 hrs./wk. (20 hrs./wk. for single parents with young children)
    6. You must meet income, household, & resource eligibility factors discussed during an in-person interview at your local DHS office


    • Families must meet both a gross & net income test to be eligible
      • Gross income = total income before deductions
      • Net income = gross income minus deductions
    • Your assets must be <$1000 (vehicles <$5,000 are exempt)
    • Countable income cannot exceed the income standards for family siz
    • You must agree to give the State your child support payments
    • The state may choose to “disregard” portions of income for the net income test (such as subtracting part of your earnings from gross income)


    • Oklahoma requires screening using a “Substance Abuse Subtle Screening Inventory”
    • Positive test results in ineligibility for 1 year. You can reapply after 6 months upon completion of a substance abuse program
    • Dependent children may continue to receive benefits through a protective payee and this person must also pass a drug test. A protective payee is simply another adult who can maintain the funds for the dependents.


    • You must agree to participate in an education or work training program for at least 30 hrs./wk. (20 hrs./wk. for single parents with young children)
    • Oklahoma disregards the first $240 and 50% of remaining monthly earned income when you begin to receive TANF, making it easier to work and meet income requirements



    Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) (PDF document)

    Watch Temporary Assistance for Needy Families: Know Your Rights