|Legal Services Corporation
For 25 Years, America's
Partner For Equal Justice
Program Letter 2000-3
Board of Directors
Douglas S. Eakeley
John N. Erlenborn
Hulett H. Askew
LaVeeda M. Battle
John T. Broderick, Jr.
F. Wm. McCalpin
St. Louis, MO
Maria Luisa Mercado
Nancy H. Rogers
Thomas F. Smegal, Jr.
San Francisco, CA
Ernestine P. Watlington
The Legal Services Corporation has decided to delay publication of the planned 2000 CSR Handbook. In lieu of a new handbook, LSC is issuing Program Letter 2000-3 which contains amendments to the 1999 CSR Handbook. In delaying the publication of a new handbook, LSC is responding to numerous requests from project directors that no new case service reporting directives be given at this time.
For the most part, these amendments were developed to meet the recommendations of the GAO that certain sections be clarified. The amendments outlined in Program Letter 2000-3 are effective for the entirety of the year 2000, except as specified below. The timekeeping amendment is not retroactive and will take effect on July 1, 2000. Most of these amendments reflect requirements already in effect for reporting of cases to LSC. Others are clarifications of requirements and one (Section 3.3(a)) eases requirements. One amendment adds a new Section 2.3 and includes timekeeping for staff acting in a paralegal capacity.
The following sections of the 1999 CSR Handbook are amended
- Section II by adding Section 2.3;
Each amendment is set out below with a brief explanation:
AMENDMENT TO SECTION II, KEY DEFINITIONS
A new Section 2.3 is added to Section II. It is effective January 1, 2000, except that the requirement that staff acting in the capacity of paralegals must keep time as required by 45 CFR Part 1635 is new and does not take effect until July 1, 2000. The new section reads as follows:
Legal assistance in a case must be provided by an attorney authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction where assistance is rendered, or a person acting in the capacity of a paralegal under the supervision of a licensed attorney in accordance with local rules of practice in the jurisdiction where the grantee provides assistance. A person providing assistance in a case need not have the job title of "attorney" or "paralegal", but any such individual must be capable of providing legal assistance in accordance with local rules of practice, and must keep records of their time as required by 45 CFR Part 1635.
AMENDMENT TO SECTION 3.3, TIMELY CLOSING OF CASES
Section 3.3(a) is amended to allow Counsel and Advice, Brief Service or Referred After Legal Assessment cases opened after September 30 of a year to be closed either in that year or in the succeeding year, without any further justification for the closing date, so as to avoid unnecessary loss of cases that were not closed before the end of the year but which had not been open for a long period of time. The new subsection reads as follows:
(a) cases in which the only assistance provided to the client is Counsel and Advice, Brief Service, a referral after legal assessment (CSR Categories A, B, and C), shall be reported as having been closed in the year in which the counsel and advice or brief service was completed, unless:
SECTION 4.3, INCLUSION OF CERTAIN NON-LSC FUNDED CASES
This section is retitled and amended to include in the types of cases to be reported to LSC cases under Titles III and IV of the Older Americans Act, Title XX of the Social Security Act and the Violence Against Women Act regardless of financial eligibility. The section is amended to read as follows:
4.3 Reporting LSC-Eligible Cases and Certain Other Federally Funded Cases
(a) Recipients should report all cases in which there has been an eligibility determination showing that the client meets LSC eligibility requirements, regardless of the source(s) of funding supporting the cases. However, cases without such determinations are not to be reported to LSC, except as provided in Section 4.3(b). This section does not require that programs document client financial eligibility for any cases not reported to LSC that are wholly funded by non-LSC funding sources.
(b) Furthermore, programs should report cases in which financial eligibility determinations are not permitted by conditions attaching to federal funding for representation of the elderly and victims of domestic violence under Titles III and IV of the Older Americans Act, Title XX of the Social Security Act and the Violence Against Women Act provided that these cases otherwise meet the requirements of this Handbook, such as the citizenship/alien eligibility requirement stated in Section 5.5.
SECTION 4.5, REPORTING FOR SEPARATE SERVICE AREAS
There have been comments that this brief section is unclear, so it is revised for greater clarity with no change in its substance. The revised section reads as follows:
4.5 Reporting for Separate Service Areas
Recipients receiving funding for more than one LSC service area shall report case service information separately for each separate service area for which LSC funding is received.1
SECTION V, DOCUMENTATION REQUIREMENTS
This section is entirely replaced. The requirements are no more than was required under the 1999 Self-Inspection criteria to report a case to LSC. Indeed, the asset documentation and citizenship eligibility requirements stated below represent a simplification of the requirements of Program Letter 99-3. The new section reads as follows:
For each case reported to LSC, programs shall record case and client information necessary for effective case management, either through notations on an intake sheet or other hard-copy document in a case file, or through electronic entries in an automated case management system database, or through other appropriate means. For each case reported to LSC, such information shall describe (at a minimum) the information required in §§5.2, 5.3, 5.4, and 5.5 of this amended Handbook and:
In addition, for each case reported to LSC, programs shall document that a determination of client eligibility was made in accordance with LSC requirements including sections 5.3, 5.4 and 5.5 below. The documentation of eligibility shall be recorded electronically in a case management system record, or in a simple form as provided by 45 CFR Section 1611.7(a), and shall be preserved for audit purposes for a period of five years.
Except for cases funded through Titles III and IV of the Older Americans Act, Title XX of the Social Security Act, the Violence Against Women Act and other federally-funded programs where financial eligibility determinations are not permitted, the documentation of eligibility shall include income and asset information as set forth in Sections 5.3 and 5.4. Furthermore, all documentation of eligibility shall include information on citizenship or alien eligibility as set forth by Section 5.5.
At a minimum, for each case reported to LSC, programs shall record the number of members in the applicants family unit and the total income received by all members of the applicants family unit.2 An amount must be recorded even if it is zero.3 For cases in which an applicants family unit has gross income exceeding 125% of the federal poverty guidelines in effect at the time of case acceptance, the documentation of eligibility shall also indicate the factual basis for the decision to accept the clients case as required by 45 CFR Section 1611.4(b).
At a minimum, for each case reported to LSC, programs shall document the total value of assets--except for categories of assets excluded from consideration pursuant to recipient Board guidelines adopted under 45 CFR §§1611.6(c) and (d) -- held by all members of the applicants family unit.4 (e.g., principal residence, work tools, or an auto needed for work). A total value must be recorded, even if it is below the programs guidelines or zero.5 For cases in which the applicants family unit has assets which exceed the programs assets ceiling adopted pursuant to 45 CFR Section 1611.6(a), the documentation of eligibility shall also indicate the factual basis for the decision to waive the assets ceiling as required by 45 CFR Section 1611.6(e).
If an applicant is currently receiving benefits under another means-tested program which has asset eligibility standards that are lower than the recipients Board adopted guidelines or that the recipients Board has accepted pursuant to its authority under 45 CFR 1611.6, as sufficient for client asset eligibility, a notation that the applicant is eligible under such program may be substituted for recording the total value of assets. In support of such notation, the program must have on file a resolution, minutes or other written evidence of action by its Board stating that eligibility for such program qualifies a client as asset-eligible.
Pursuant to 45 CFR Sections 1626.6(a) and 1626.7(a), the level of documentation necessary to evidence citizenship or alien eligibility depends on the nature of the service provided to the client. For cases involving Counsel and Advice or Brief Service (CSR Categories A and B) provided exclusively over the telephone, the documentation of eligibility shall include a written notation or computer entry which reflects the clients oral response to the programs inquiry as to whether the client is a U.S. citizen or an eligible alien.6
For cases in which there is in-person contact with the client and an intake worker or case handler or continuous representation beyond advice and brief service, the documentation of eligibility shall include either: (a) a written attestation of citizenship, or (b) documentation of alien eligibility, as required by 45 CFR Sections 1626.6(a) and 1626.7(a). A clients signature on an intake sheet or other document which contains a statement that the client is a United States citizen constitutes a signed attestation for the purposes of meeting this requirement.
NEW SECTION IX, LEGAL PROBLEM CATEGORIES AND CODES
A new Section IX is added to the 1999 CSR Handbook, restating the Legal Problem Categories and Legal Problem Codes. There is no change in the Legal Problem Codes currently in use, except that Problem Code 83, Prisoners Rights, is discontinued.
Section IX: Legal Problem Categories and Codes
This section lists common types of legal problems experienced by clients. Each closed case is assigned a numeric Legal Problem Code ranging from 1 to 99 describing the type of legal problem. These Legal Problem Codes are grouped in ten broad Legal Problem Categories. The Legal Problem Codes are set out below by Legal Problem Category:
1 A program may have more than one service area in a specific category of funding, such as Basic Field, or may have service areas in more than one category of funding, such as Basic Field and Migrant. In either case, each service area is to be reported separately.
2 Most programs record considerably more information about household income, including information about each family member’s income and about the types of income received. LSC encourages this, but, because of the variety of systems used and information collected by different programs, the requirement of Section 5.3 is limited to recording total income. However, programs’ intake procedures must include instructions to ask sufficient questions of the applicant to determine the total amount of household income with reasonable accuracy and the program must be able to provide reasonable evidence that staff practice follows these procedures.
3 The requirement that an amount be recorded is not satisfied if a computer program defaults to zero; program staff must make an actual entry to record an amount of household income in each case.
4 Many programs record more assets information than is required by Section 5.4. LSC strongly encourages this and recommends recording at least the following:
Non-Liquid Assets:Personal Property
Whatever is actually recorded, programs’ intake procedures must include instructions to ask sufficient questions of the applicant to determine the total amount of household assets with reasonable accuracy and the program must be able to provide reasonable evidence that staff practice follows these procedures.
5 The requirement that a value be recorded is not satisfied if a computer program defaults to zero; program staff must make an actual entry to record an amount of household assets in each case.
6 The requirement for a written notation is not satisfied if a computer program defaults to an indication of eligibility; program staff must make an actual entry to record eligibility in each case.
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