LSC and COVID-19
Senate Bipartisan Support for LSC Request for Additional $50 millionSens. Cornyn (R-TX), Murphy (D-CT), Sullivan (R-AK) and Durbin (D-IL) sent a bipartisan letter on May 8 to the Senate Appropriations Committee in support of LSC’s request for an additional $50 million to enable our grantees to confront the enormity of the enormous challenges resulting from COVID-19. The House Caucus on Civil Legal Aid sent a similar bipartisan letter to the House Appropriations Committee on April 8. Senate Supplemental Appropriations Letter House Caucus Support Letter Conference of Chief Justices Conference of State Court Administrators Support Letter
COVID-19 Response Grant
The Legal Services Corporation(LSC) received $50 million in the $2 trillion stimulus package passed by the Senate to stabilize households and businesses affected by the coronavirus outbreak. The funding will help LSC’s 132 grantees assist low-income clients facing job losses, evictions and other problems stemming from the pandemic.
Telework Capacity Building Grant
The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) issued over $2 million for grants to support building the telework capacity of LSC grantees during the Coronavirus outbreak. Grantees received up to $25,000 for equipment, services, and related expenses to improve or expand their telework and remote access capabilities to better serve low-income populations during a time of recommended or required telework.
Frequently Asked Questions
LSC is maintaining and updating a list of questions and answers regarding pandemic issues affecting grants, grantee operations, and client services.
Below are summaries of a few of the most recently updated answers.
27. Does the one-time pandemic payment of $1,200 (or $2,400 per married couple) count as “income” under Part 1611? (May 1, 2020)
- No. The one-time payment of $1,200 (or $2,400 per married couple) does not count as “income” under Part 1611. Grantees may disregard it as they would a gift or tax refund.
28. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress created a program to provide additional payments of $600 a week for recipients of unemployment benefits through July 31. Does the extra $600 a week count as “income” under Part 1611? (May 1, 2020)
- Yes, with adjustments. All unemployment benefits are Part 1611 income. Nonetheless, Part 1611 requires determination of annual income, not weekly income. The $600 per week is available for less than half a year. As with any short term or seasonal income, you can annualize it based on the expected duration of payments, prior income, and future income prospects. Additionally, the pandemic may create a sufficient “other significant factor” under the § 1611.5 exceptions. A more detailed answer to this question appears in the full FAQ, linked to above.
29. Do unemployment benefits provided as “Pandemic Unemployment Assistance” to people who normally would not qualify for those benefits count as “income” under Part 1611?
- Yes, with adjustments. The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits are income under Part 1611 the same as regular unemployment benefits. Nonetheless, unemployment benefits are not available for a full year. Thus, you may annualize them based on the expected duration of payments, prior income, and future income prospects. Also, you may consider exceptions to the annual income ceiling pursuant to § 1611.5 due to the pandemic, as discussed in the answer above regarding the extra $600 per week and more fully in the FAQ, linked to below.
Legal Services Corporation Will Receive $50 Million in Coronavirus Stimulus Bill
March 26, 2020
WASHINGTON–The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) will receive $50 million in the $2 trillion stimulus package passed by the Senate today to stabilize households and businesses affected by the coronavirus outbreak.The funding would help LSC’s 132 grantees assist low-income clients facing job losses, evictions and other problems stemming from the pandemic.
“We are grateful that Congress has recognized that COVID-19 is going to dramatically increase the life-altering civil legal needs faced by low income Americans and that legal aid can make a meaningful difference in addressing those needs,” said LSC President Ronald S. Flagg.
In response to the growing legal needs of Americans arising from the coronavirus (COVID-19), the American Bar Association has created a nationwide task force of volunteer lawyers and judges from across the legal profession. The task force will identify the legal needs arising from the pandemic, make recommendations to address those needs, and help mobilize volunteer lawyers and legal professionals to assist people who need help.
Many of you have been reaching out to your program liaisons with questions related to the impact of COVID-19 on your daily operations and client services. To ensure that we’re addressing all of your questions and concerns with a unified voice, we are instituting a regular conference call with grantees.
Click here to download the powerpoint from our 3/19 COVID-19 webinar
Click here to download the powerpoint from our 4/14 COVID-19 webinar
Dispatches from the Field
Gary F. Smith, Executive Director
Legal Services of Northern California
March 28, 2020
Yesterday marked the second full week of LSNC’s transition to a fully remote delivery system. Our offices are closed, with all staff—even support staff—working from home, using Internet telephones, laptops, and all sorts of other wizardry and gadgetry that I don’t understand. And yet in those two weeks we have opened nearly 500 new cases (many of which we have already closed after providing advice and counsel or brief service).
I am amazed—and heartened—by the flexibility and positive spirit with which not only my staff, but our entire community, has approached this crisis.