About 50 million Americans have household incomes below 125% of the poverty threshold – including more than 15 million children and nearly 8 million seniors.*
Civil legal needs
Civil legal needs typically involve securing and protecting basic needs, such as housing, education, health care, income, and safety.
The justice gap
The justice gap is the difference between the civil legal needs of low-income Americans and the resources available to meet those needs.
*Data source: U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey, 2021 Annual Social and Economic (ASEC) Supplement
The 2022 Justice Gap Study
The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) is pleased to share findings from its 2022 Justice Gap Study. This study provides a fresh assessment of low-income Americans’ civil legal needs and the extent to which their legal needs are met. Additionally, its timing allows an examination of the justice gap in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has had disproportionate effects on this population. The study leverages LSC’s “intake census” conducted among LSC-funded legal aid organizations as well as a nationally representative survey of more than 5,000 adults conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago using its AmeriSpeak® Panel.
Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic
33% of low-income Americans experienced at least one civil legal problem linked to the COVID-19 pandemic in the past year.
The types of civil legal problems most likely to be attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic are those involving income maintenance, education, and housing.
Additionally, the data suggest that income disparities in the justice gap between low- and higher-income Americans are exacerbated for pandemic-related civil legal problems. See Section Five for a fuller discussion of this noteworthy finding.
Data sources: 2021 Justice Gap Measurement Survey.