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Tips for Expediting Compensation Claims

In the world of comp claims, time is money! In this article we highlight useful tips for the savvy biller, including how to avoid potential claim processing delays.

  1. Complete the Claim Form With Correct Information
      1. First things first: It is helpful to read our Line-by-Line Guide (PDF) for an understanding of what service or expense goes on which line on the claim form. For a full understanding of claim policies, read the statewide Panel Claims Manual (PDF).
        Second, return phone calls or emails regarding the claim from Lisa (our panel claims processor) or the CCAP staff attorney. We cannot transmit the claim for payment until it is “complete.”
      2. Double check the correct rate of payment.The compensation rate is based primarily on two things: the date of your appointment on the case and the type of case. If the incorrect rate is claimed, CCAP must unsubmit the claim so you can correct the rate before we can proceed with processing that claim. While the case-offer rate is pre-populated into the WebClaims program, we are only human and on occasion that rate can be listed incorrectly. See our Rates Page to confirm the correct rate for your case.
      3. Photocopies: List only one rate for all photocopying charges. If copying was done at two or more different rates, then list an average for the cost per page. The data CCAP electronically transmits with the claim must consist of a single rate per copy. List the total number of pages copied as one figure.
      4. Receipts: Although in most instances expense receipts need not be submitted with a claim, the projects or the JCC may request documentation with regard to claimed expenses for things such as travel or experts. The burden of proof rests with appointed counsel to substantiate the claim. For tax purposes, the California Franchise Tax Board suggests keeping such documentation for at least seven years, which would also cover AIDOAC audits of the JCC/Court Appointed Counsel (CAC) program (see Statewide Panel Claims Manual (PDF), “Receipts” topic).
      5. Submit final claims in a timely fashion! The JCC/CAC expects the final claim to be submitted to the project within 210 days following the issuance of the remittitur. If you need more time, please contact your assigned staff attorney to let him/her know more time is needed. For longer delays, we may close the case to release an interim holdback amount. If you find the CCAP WebClaims portal closed for creating a final claim for an old case, please contact Lisa to ask that the case be reopened to allow for processing a final claim. (The JCC prefers this method rather than holding a case open and the holdback/liability amounts on their books for an extended period of time.)
      6. Dependency cases: Fill in “WI 300” for the code and “dependency proceedings” for the description in dependency cases. Use these same descriptions regardless of the point in the dependency process when the appeal was taken.
      7. Delinquency cases: Fill in “WI 602” for the code and “delinquency proceedings” for the description in juvenile delinquency cases; don’t separately list the criminal codes/counts/allegations of the petition.
      8. Transferred cases: If your Third or Fifth District case is transferred to another District Court of Appeal, CCAP is responsible for all aspects of the case including consultation and processing a related claim under the new Court of Appeal case number. Submit your claim (interim or final) using the CCAP WebClaims portal.
  2. Other Helpful Hints to Get Paid in Full
    1. Bill it on the right line supported by comments: It is important to the JCC that a service be placed on the right line, otherwise the claim may need to be unsubmitted by the project for correction. (See Line-by-Line Guide (PDF).) In addition, provide a complete comment regarding the time claimed, especially whenever it exceeds the guidelines. (See statewide guidelines.) It is very difficult for a staff attorney to recommend payment in excess of guidelines if he/she is not provided an explanation, especially where the extra time spent may not be evident from the briefing filed. The comment does not have to contain a time log. A short, simple explanation is usually sufficient. For instance, a comment is very helpful to assess issue classification where the argument required a great deal of federal research that did not show up in the final product. It is also very helpful if the explanation can be disclosed, if necessary, during an audit by AIDOAC. A copy of the claim is provided during an audit. For this reason do not include confidential or privileged information in comments nor mention adverse consequences. Including this sort of attorney/client strategic information in a public comment almost always requires the claim to be unsubmitted. In instances where the topic is confidential or a potential adverse consequence is investigated, the information can be imparted separately in communications with the assigned staff attorney. The claim comment can be sanitized to refer to confidential communications with CCAP with respect to a general subject area (like “sentencing”).
    2. Provide grouped, multi-service line items with a breakdown: When there is more than one service or task claimed on a single line (such as Lines 5, 23 and 24) provide a breakdown of the time claimed for each service. Also, make sure your comments add up to the total amount of time being claimed for the line.
    3. Use of prior briefing: Declare significant use of prior briefing. On the final claim, remember to update this information in light of the additional briefing filed including the reply, petition for rehearing/review, or any supplemental briefing. “Prior” means any sample or briefing, including within the same case, e.g., copying significant portions of the AOB into the petition for review. The failure to note use of prior briefing may require the claim to be unsubmitted for correction.
    4. Preliminary hearing pages: Include an explanation for any time claimed for review of the preliminary hearing transcript pages in the reading of the record. Because there is a presumption that the preliminary hearing transcript will not generally be reviewed by appellate counsel, counsel is encouraged to contact the staff attorney assigned to the case before claiming time for this service (exceptions may exist where that proceeding was the basis for a motion to suppress, used at trial for impeachment purposes, etc.).
    5. Preauthorization: Obtain prior authorization for any travel expenses other than travel for oral argument. This includes time for appearances in another court in a proceeding related to the appeal. Where time is claimed for travel or appearances without prior authorization, CCAP may recommend a belated request for approval, but this will delay the claim (and may not be approved). Accordingly, counsel should discuss with the staff attorney his or her options before proceeding with any travel.
      In the Third and Fifth Districts, obtain preauthorization for all writ work and extraordinary expenses. Preapproval is also needed to seek expenses for a translator. The CCAP staff buddy assigned to the case can provide assistance in applying for preauthorization.
  3. Systemic Delays
    1. Claims with recommendations >$7500: The first review after the project transmits a claim recommendation is by the JCC/CAC staff. A CAC staff member screens every claim recommendation totaling over $7,500, and a random sampling of smaller claims, before their approval is sent to JCC Accounting and the Controller to generate a payment. The purpose of this review is to make sure the project has adequately justified an award of that size and added explanations where needed. The CAC reviewers may or may not be lawyers, and have access to just the project recommendation, not case materials, such as briefing. The CAC reviewer will review over-guideline items looking for explanations for these items. For more information on these reviews, see the statewide Panel Claims Manual (PDF), Appendix A.
    2. Fiscal Year End: Even in non-challenging State budget years, the State may not be able to timely process payments while closing the accounting books for one year, awaiting the Governor’s signature on a new budget, and starting up the next years’ accounting books. This annual laborious fiscal year process may result in anywhere from a two to three week delay during a black-out period that starts usually around the last full week of June and into the first couple of weeks of July. Because the average project time for processing a claim is seven business days, a claim that is submitted around the first week or two of June will more likely make it through to JCC accounting for payment before the inevitable blackout period begins. Conversely, claims that are gathered by CCAP in the middle and towards the end of June become more likely to be caught in the blackout period the tighter the timeline becomes. If this happens, there is nothing that the project or CAC can do to speed up payment because it is a necessary statewide blackout awaiting steps to re-open the State’s financial spigot. CAC typically will continue to process claims sent by the projects, but are held in the order they are received and approved. Payments cannot be processed until the State blackout period ends, a new budget is signed by the Governor, and a new fiscal year is opened within JCC Accounting and the State Controller’s Office. Longer delays may occur if the State budget is delayed and not signed.