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2004 November - December

Relocated Public Housing Residents Face Little Hope to Return

Work Requirements for Mixed-Income Public Housing Development

By William P. Wilen & Rajesh D. Nayak

Chicago public housing residents have endured dilapidated housing conditions, relocation rights violations, and fair housing discrimination including resegregation. Now they confront minimum work requirements to be considered eligible to return to public housing units. The Chicago Housing Authority's public housing transformation plan promises to rebuild resource-rich mixed-income communities. However, tenant selection plans may exclude the most vulnerable and abused population from reaping the benefits of the housing authority's plan. The new work requirements as well as other stringent tenant selection criteria may violate fair housing laws.

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Social Security and Supplemental Security Income Overpayments

A Practical Guide

By Barbara Samuels

The Social Security Administration, in recent years, has developed a collection agency mentality in collecting social security and Supplemental Security Income overpayments. Claimants who have good overpayment defenses increasingly require legal assistance. Advocates need to understand liability for overpayments, the agency's collection methods, a claimant's options for challenging an alleged overpayment, how to develop an overpayment case, alternatives if overpayment defenses fail, and defensive tactics to prevent or limit overpayments.

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"This Issue Will Not Go Away..."

Continuing to Seek the Right to Counsel in Civil Cases

By John Nethercut

Last year, in Frase v. Barnhart, Maryland's highest court, in a 4-to-3 decision, refused to decide whether a parent threatened with loss of custody of her child to an unrelated couple had a state constitutional right to counsel. Plaintiff's counsel, the Public Justice Center, is continuing to pursue this "civil Gideon" right to counsel in Maryland. The center has recruited pro bono attorneys to research bases for the right in other states and is spearheading discussions among advocates nationally about the most promising state-level strategies.

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Federal Court Access Issues in the U.S. Supreme Court's 2003-2004 Term

By Gill Deford, Jane Perkins, Gary F. Smith & Matthew Diller

The U.S. Supreme Court's–2004 rulings on federal court access were often buried in decisions better known for their substantive holdings. This term the Court upheld the power of the federal government against state claims of sovereign immunity; potentially narrowed the already limited access to federal court of plaintiffs whose federal claims are intertwined with "the realm of domestic relations" and narrowed the scope of agency inaction subject to challenge under the Administrative Procedure Act. The Court also addressed the deference to Chevron v. Natural Resources Defense Council, the statute of limitations for civil actions arising under an act of Congress, the standard of review of a preliminary injunction, mandamus, and Equal Access to Justice Act attorney fees.

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Dazed and Confused

Navigating the Abyss of the Medicare Act of 2003 for Low-Income Beneficiaries

By Alfred J. Chiplin Jr., Gill Deford, Vicki Gottlich & Patricia Nemore

The Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003, a major restructuring of the Medicare program, offers beneficiaries limited assistance in paying for prescription drugs and increases benefit cost-sharing responsibilities. Through a new Part D, prescription drug benefits include a low-income subsidy. However, the Act eliminates all Medicaid drug coverage for individuals who are eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid. Advocates should find out how their states will determine eligibility for the subsidy, what the enrollment process will be, and how "dual eligibles" will be notified about their loss of Medicaid coverage and enrolled in a prescription drug benefit plan.

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