Our experience with Social Security disability claims in the Vancouver and Portland areas of Washington and Oregon

Marla Heikkala

I was born in Portland, Oregon but grew up in Vancouver, attending Vancouver Public Schools and graduating from Hudson’s Bay High School in 1973. After graduating from Clark College in 1974, it was on to gaining an undergraduate degree (BA) in Secondary Education at George Fox University in Newberg, Oregon, in 1976, and a Doctor of Jurisprudence (JD) at Willamette University College of Law in Salem, Oregon, in 1979.

I became a member of the Washington State Bar Association in 1979 and began the practice of law in Vancouver that same year. I have continued to live and work in Vancouver, concentrating on the representation of injured people by practicing in the areas of Social Security disability and Washington State Worker’s Compensation. Marla Heikkala and Associates was established in 1997.

I am very committed to providing service to my community and have served on various boards and commissions for such organizations as the Vancouver Chamber of Commerce, George Fox University, Southwest Washington Medical Center, and the Washington Association for Justice. I am currently a member and chairperson of the Clark County Civil Service Commission.

My professional memberships include:

As for my personal life, I am married and have three grown children and four grandchildren. I enjoy gardening and have a yard full of roses. I also enjoy cooking, particularly Italian meals, baking and desserts.

Of Counsel

Terisa Page Gault

I began my legal career working as a paralegal for over 10 years, helping injured people. Through that work, I was inspired to become an attorney to better help people with disabilities have a voice and obtain the benefits they need. A native Oregonian, I received my undergraduate degree from Portland State University and attended law school at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon.

I am also part of the team at Harris Velázquez Gibbens in Hillsboro, Oregon.  I have represented thousands of people all over the United States, fighting for their benefits against the Federal government. My extensive and varied experience enables me to look at cases from every level and connect with clients in a very meaningful way. I fight for your rights and am able to work with you and your medical providers to navigate the disability process.

Outside of work, I enjoy spending time with family, friends and my pet Schnoodle. My husband and I love to travel. I am a bookworm and I also enjoy cooking, baking, watching sports, camping, and wine tasting.

My Professional Memberships and Education include:

  • The Oregon State Bar Association – 2012
  • Willamette University College of Law, J.D., 2011, Honors in Legal Research & Writing. Certificate Alternative Dispute Resolution. Certificate in Chinese Comparative Law, East China University of Politics and Law. Runner-Up First Year Appellate Competition. Co-Editor, Oregon Courts Service, Willamette Law Online. Summer Editor and Research Editor, Willamette Journal of International Law and Dispute Resolution.
  • Portland State University, B.A., English, 2008
  • Oregon State Bar Disability Law Section Executive Board Committee
  • Social Security Disability Section,
  • Oregon Trial Lawyers Association (OTLA)
  • National Organization of Social Security Claimants Representatives (NOSSCR)
  • Oregon Social Security Claimants Representatives (OSSCR)
  • Washington County Bar Association
  • Oregon Attorneys with Disabilities Association

Classes and Seminars

  • Presenter “Ethically and Effectively Representing Clients with Diminished Capacity” Oregon State Bar Disability Law Section, Social Security Disability Recent Trends and Tips, June 1, 2018
  • Panelist “Interacting and Working Together When Mental Health or Cognitive Disability Is a Concern” Oregon State Bar Disability Law Section, Practicing Inclusion: How to Best Represent Clients with Disabilities, June 7, 2019
  • Presenter “Social Security Practice in the times of COVID-19” Oregon Trial Lawyers Association, May 18, 2020
  • Presenter “Representing Clients with Diminished Capacity in the Times of COVID-19” Oregon State Bar Disability Law Section, Getting Oriented in the Civil Rights Statutes that Protect People with Disabilities: Where We Are, How We Got Here, and What’s New on the Horizon, October 14, 2020
  • Presenter “Social Security Disability Compared to Social Security Retirement: What’s the Difference? Edward Jones Financial Advisors, April 27, 2022

Of Counsel

Bennett S. “Ben” Engelman, ALJ, Ret

Attorney at Law

Member of the Michigan State Bar

Ben joined the team at Marla Heikkala & Associates in 2017.  Ben is a graduate of Western Michigan University Cooley Law School in Lansing, Michigan and is a retired Administrative Law Judge.  He has presided over thousands of Social Security Disability claims.  We are happy that he assists us in reviewing and preparing files, representing our clients and also drafting appeals for submission to the Appeals Council.

Please contact us if we can help you with your Washington or Oregon Social Security disability claim.

Marla Heikkala & Associates
Vancouver, Washington Social Security disability lawyers

Street address:
6529 N.E. Hwy 99
Vancouver, WA 98665

Mailing address:
P.O. Box 61749
Vancouver, WA 98666

Or call us at:  (360) 699-5405