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SNAP Budget Worksheet for New York State 2021

Posted on January 25th, 2021


Child Care Copayment Disparities by County

Posted on January 13th, 2021

Featured below is an updated Child Care Copayment Chart for families of three with an annual income of $43,440 (200% of poverty) showing the copayment multiplier for each social services district in New York. This chart is based of a review of the annual plan updates and the COVID -19 waiver chart posted on the OCFS website as of January 2, 2021. For nine counties that had not posted annual plan updates for 2020, 2019 data was used.

 

We recommend you view the PDF here.

 

There are many changes from last year’s chart. Most striking is that only four districts continue with the impossibly high copayment multiplier of 35%, which is the number applied to the family’s income over the poverty level to calculate the parent share. Last year eighteen districts used this multiplier. Many districts have reduced their copayments to 25%, 20%, or even 10%.  Last year only three counties chose to use the 10% copayments multiplier, which is the lowest permitted under state regulation. This year there are eight counties with 10% multipliers. Other important news to note is that the social services districts highlighted in red obtained approval from OCFS to waive copayments. The list of counties that are currently waiving copayments is updated monthly on the OCFS website at https://ocfs.ny.gov/programs/childcare/plans/ altogether for as permitted by 20 OCFS ADM-06, available at: https://ocfs.ny.gov/main/policies/external/ocfs_2020/ADM/20-OCFS-ADM-06.pdf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also featured below is a chart which shows the annual copayment required from families of three with incomes between the poverty level and 275% of the poverty level, and the percentage of the family’s gross income that that payment represents.

 

We recommend you view the PDF here.


Federal Language Access Website

Posted on June 15th, 2020

The mission of LEP.gov is to share resources and information to help expand and improve language assistance services for individuals with limited English proficiency, in compliance with federal law. Access the federal government’s website here.


New York State Language Access Policy

Posted on June 15th, 2020

Visit New York State’s Language Access Policy website to review New York State regulation or to file a complaint.


COVID-19 FAQ – NYS Foreclosure, Eviction, and Consumer Debt

Posted on March 30th, 2020

COVID-19 PANDEMIC

FAQS NEW YORK STATE FORECLOSURE, EVICTION, AND CONSUMER DEBT 

 

Last updated: March 30, 2020

HOMEOWNER

Q. Is there a foreclosure moratorium in New York State?

Yes. All pending foreclosure actions have been stayed in New York , and no new foreclosure actions can be filed until it is further ordered. A foreclosure cannot be filed against you during this time, and any appearances or deadlines in existing matters are suspended until further notice.

 

Q. Did Governor Cuomo suspend the obligation to make mortgage payments for everyone during the COVID-19 pandemic?

No. New York State does not have the authority to unilaterally make this policy change, but the state is urging all lenders to work with homeowners during this time. If you have not experienced an economic hardship because of the pandemic, homeowners should continue to make their mortgage payments. If you have lost income because of the pandemic, Governor Cuomo and the NYS Department of Financial Services (DFS) urged all lenders and mortgage servicers to not require mortgage payments be made for 90 days (through June 19, 2020).  While we hope and expect lenders and servicers to comply with the Guidance, at this time none of the major financial institutions have announced any detailed plans of how they will work with mortgage holders. If you are not able to make your mortgage payment, reach out to your lender to talk to them about the situation.

 

Q. I was already behind on my mortgage.  Can my lender start a foreclosure action against me during the pandemic?

No. Foreclosure filings are not allowed in New York on any mortgage until further notice from the New York State Unified Court System. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced that no foreclosure actions can be started on FHA-insured mortgages until at least May 18, 2020.

 

Q. I was in the middle of a foreclosure action when the COVID-19 pandemic began.  Am I in danger of losing my home in the middle of this pandemic?  

No foreclosure sales can occur until further notice from   the New York State Unified Court System.

 

Q. Do I need to attend a previously scheduled settlement conference?

No. All settlement conferences and other appearances have been cancelled until further notice from   the New York State Unified Court System.

 

Q. Do I need to meet filing or other deadlines?

No. All deadlines to file an answer, motion, response or other pleading have been suspended until at least April 19, 2020. In addition, if your loan is insured through FHA and a judgment was already issued, the federal government has hold on any foreclosure sales through May 18, 2020.

 

Q. My home was already sold at auction but I am still living in it. Can I be evicted?

No. All evictions in New York are on hold by state court order, pending further notice. This includes evictions from homes following a foreclosure sale.

 

Q. What happens if I was in a trial loan modification?

For homeowners currently in a trial modification, continue to make payments if you are financially able to do so. Your lender will honor the agreement you are in, and will continue towards a permanent modification if you are able to make all of your trial plan payments.

If you are not able to make trial payments as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, Governor Cuomo has urged lenders and mortgage servicers to offer a 90-day grace period (until June 17, 2020) for further trial plan payments.  We hope that all lenders will agree to do this, but at this time none of the major lenders have announced detailed plans regarding this.  You should reach out to your servicer, as well. As more information becomes available, we will provide updates.   

 

Q. I have an FHA Mortgage, and I can’t afford to make payments on my mortgage due to layoff or reduced work as a result of due to the Covid-19 pandemic? Is there any relief?  

There are different rules that apply to FHA-insured mortgages. FHA-insured mortgages are in a 60-day moratorium for any foreclosure actions, meaning that no further action will be taken to move forward any foreclosures that have already begun. This also means that no new foreclosure actions will be filed during that time period. In addition, evictions for FHA mortgage homeowners are not allowed for 60 days.

 

Q. What if I am in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy to save my home, do I have to continue to make plan payments? What if I cant because I lost income due to the COVID-19 pandemic?

For those in Chapter 13 bankruptcies, you must continue to make your monthly bankruptcy payment.   If you cannot afford to make plan payments, contact your lawyer or the trustee of the bankruptcy court, as well as your mortgage servicer.

 

Q. What if there is a pending tax foreclosure action against my home?

Tax foreclosures are handled at the local level in New York, by either your county, municipality or town. You need to check with your local taxing authority for details. All foreclosure actions, including tax foreclosures, pending in the courts should be stayed and no new tax foreclosures can be filed at this time. If a sale has been scheduled for your home, contact your local taxing authority. If your home already was sold through a tax auction but you are still in the home, you cannot be evicted right now.

 

Q. What about homeowners insurance?

If you pay your homeowners insurance through your mortgage but you stop making mortgage payments, it is very likely the mortgage lender will continue to pay your homeowners insurance. If you pay your homeowners insurance directly, meaning you write the check out to the insurance company (or pay online or however), and you cannot pay it because of loss of income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, you should contact your insurance company immediately. The New York State Department of Financial Services issued guidance asking the insurance industry to work with homeowners affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.  This includes allowing consumers to defer payments at no cost, extending payment due dates, and waiving late or reinstatement fees.  While this guidance does not have the force of law, it is a strong request to the industry.

 

RENTERS

Q. I am a renter.  Can I be evicted now? 

No. All evictions in New York are on hold by state court order, pending further notice. No new evictions can be filed until further notice by the New York State Unified Court System.

Q. Does this mean I don’t have to pay rent during the pandemic?

No. The legal requirement to pay rent still applies. If you stop making rental payments, you could face eviction when the courts reopen.

Q. I have more questions as a tenant. Are there more resources?

Yes. Go to the Housing Justice for All website at https://www.housingjusticeforall.org/faqs.

 

DEBT-RELATED

Q. I lost my job and overdrew on my bank account. Can I be charged overdraft fees? 

Yes, however, the NYS Department of Financial Services issued guidance asking the banking industry to waive overdraft fees (as well as ATM fees).   While this guidance does not have the force of law, it is a strong request to the industry.

 

Q. I lost my job and can’t afford to make credit card payments. What will happen?

The New York State Department of Financial Services) issued guidance asking the banking industry to waive late fees for credit card balances.  In addition, the guidance instructs companies to offer payment accommodations, and extend the payment due dates for consumers affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.  While this guidance does not have the force of law, it is a strong request to the industry.

 

Q. If I owe debt, can my bank account be restrained or my wages garnished during the pandemic? What can I do if my account is already being restrained for a judgment but I need the money because I lost wages?

If a restraint is already in place and you wish to remove it, contact your local legal services program. It is unclear whether this kind of action can be addressed by the courts at this time.   No new legal actions can be filed at this time in the New York courts, so no new judgments/account restraints/wage garnishments can be put in place.

 

Please note: Do not send us any nonpublic information about any legal matter for which you seek legal representation until we request that you do so. Empire Justice attorneys will inform you if and when your matter is considered for legal representation. Until that time, any information you provide WILL NOT be considered confidential, and NO attorney-client relationship is formed by communications received through this website. Any information available on the website is for general legal education purposes only, and is not legal advice.


COVID-19 Advocate Info – Public Benefits Waivers and Emergency Guidance

Posted on March 25th, 2020

NEW YORK PUBLIC BENEFITS

WAIVERS AND EMERGENCY GUIDANCE

DURING THE COVID-19 EMERGENCY DECLARATION

Last updated: June 16, 2020

The information compiled below is taken from a number of different sub-regulatory sources and grouped by benefits topic area for ease of reference during this emergency. Because many of the waivers presented are at county option, there are also a few notes highlighting situations where advocates may need to clarify the practice with their local department of social services (“LDSS”). Please note that this information is likely to change further, so please refer back to ensure you have recent information.

 

 

LDSS Office Operations

In spite of the declaration of emergency and directive to populate all open offices sparsely (on-site staffing level at the LDSS offices may be at 25% or 50% of capacity, depending on the reopening phase of a given geographical region), the LDSSs are required to be open during their regular business hours, meet emergency needs, and respond to requests for assistance consistent with their prior obligations (see 20 GIS TA/DC016 at 5).  Social services districts provide essential services and are exempt from the State’s restriction on in-person work (20 GIS TA/DC018 at 1).  LDSS employees must be masked for public safety.  Applicants and recipients seeking at the LDSS may be encouraged to mask, but may not be turned away for refusing to wear a mask or required to provide medical documentation demonstrating that the client has a medical condition that prevents masking (see GIS 20 TA/DC036 at Q.5, GIS 20 TA/DC039 at Q.10).

 

Just as prior to this public health emergency, each LDSS remains obligated to accept and register applications on the day an individual makes an application to DSS for the form of assistance he or she feels is most appropriate to meet their needs.  LDSSs offices must have staff available during core business hours to address and meet the needs of individuals who apply for or receive benefits…regardless of county-wide mandates to close county government offices (20 GIS TA/DC018 at 2).  Applications can continue to be submitted in person, by mail, fax, scan, online or by remote app (where these capacities exist).  LDSS may use a drop box to receive applications at the office if people are not coming inside but must check it throughout the day and at the end of the day to ensure that they can respond to emergencies in a timely manner (20 GIS TA/DC023 at 2-3, Q.8).  LDSSs must also ensure their continued ability to handle after hours emergencies, as they have been required to do previously.

The current waiver provisions permit the LDSSs to issue non-photo benefits cards through July 6, 2020, in order to facilitate access to assistance without requiring in-person appearance at the LDSS office (GIS 20 TA/DC028, Executive Order 202.28; effective date extended in GIS 20 TA/DC057 at p.2).

 

It is also worthwhile to note that Executive Order 202.7 permits notary by video conference if necessary, as some LDSS have asked clients to get notarized documents under various circumstances (effective through July 6, 2020 by Executive Order 202.38).  OTDA has clarified that the LDSS-4930 form used for assignment of wages can be pended until there is in-person contact due to good cause at this time and need not be immediately notarized (GIS 20 TA/DC023 at 1, Q.1).

 

 

Refundable Tax Credit Rebate Payments Issued Under the Federal CARES Act:

 

Pandemic Unemployment Compensation

Pandemic unemployment compensation is treated as unearned income for purposes of Temporary Assistance, SNAP and HEAP.  If a household receiving benefits begins receiving a pandemic unemployment compensation, the income must be reported to the LDSS consistent with the requirements of which ever public benefit the household is receiving (GIS 20 TA/DC035).

 

P-EBT

Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer (P-EBT) is a food benefit that is being issued to all New York State households with a school-aged child that were unable to receive free or reduced price meals due to school closures during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The benefit was authorized in the federal Families First Coronavirus Relief Act (P.L. 116-127, Sec. 1101).  This is NOT SNAP; the eligibility and income rules of SNAP do not apply.  This is a new, distinct benefit being issued through the same EBT card network that SNAP uses.  As detailed in GIS 20 TA/DC051, OTDA will do phased issuances of P-EBT benefits to current SNAP recipients, then Medicaid only households, and finally to households with neither SNAP nor Medicaid.  The LDSSs will have no responsibility or control over this process as it is solely being handled at OTDA.

 

Temporary Assistance

Certification Periods:

 

Effective May 20-June 30, 2020, telephonic application and telephonic signature on application are available at the LDSS option.  The relevant GIS identifies specifically several ways this may operate in a given LDSS.  See GIS 20 TA/DC049 for detailed description of the options. Extension for the month of June 2020 in GIS 20 TA/DC055.

 

LDSSs should not impose sanctions for non-compliance with requirements that require in-person contact or where the person has good cause related to the COVID-19 emergency (GIS 20 TA/DC023 at 2).  Emergency guidance directed LDSSs to “consider the extent to which such factors [quarantine, lack of child care, worksite closure, etc.] may have affected an individual’s ability to meet program requirements and may document good cause” (GIS 20 TA/DC013 at 2; see also GIS 20 TA/DC023 at 2 note).  In essence, OTDA has urged LDSSs to make broad and ready use of this emergency as a reason for waiving penalties and looking beyond strict programmatic compliance; this is referenced in multiple locations in both GIS 20 TA/DC013 and GIS 20 TA/DC016.  LDSSs that use the mail-in recertification process should not take negative action on recertification packets that are not received through July 6, 2020 (GIS 20 TA/DC023 at 2, Q.4; GIS 20 TA/DC 016 at 2; effective date extended by GIS 20 TA/DC047 and subsequently by GIS 20 TA/DC057).    The guidance doesn’t specify that LDSSs should suspend all terminations and sanctions, though it certainly seems have the authority to do this, and should be encouraged to take this option.

 

For individuals who have served a sanction and are now seeking to return to assistance after the durational period of the sanction has run, the district should lift the sanction and may only require an in-home activity for them to demonstrate compliance (GIS 20 TA/DC023 at 5, Q.1).

 

Interviews by Telephone: While a face to face interview is generally required for public assistance (see 18 NYCRR §§ 350.3(c), 351.20(b)(3)), the face to face interview requirement is currently waived through July 6, 2020, for new applications and recertifications (GIS 20 TA/DC016 at 2; GIS 20 TA/DC028 at 1; date extended by GIS 20 TA/DC057). However, if an A/R requests an in-person interview, the LDSS must provide one.

 

LDSSs are directed to generate manual notices in order to send out information to recertifying TA recipients about the date and time of their telephone interview, and then send a written follow up to the telephone interview that indicates what additional documentation is needed to complete the eligibility determination after the interview is conducted (LDSS-2642, or local equivalent form).  Essentially, this involves treating the interview and documentation process for TA in substantially the same manner as the LDSS would do an interview for a SNAP-only application with a telephone interview.  Copies of birth certificates, rather than originals, are temporarily acceptable because of this process of mailing documentation; the original must be provided at the next feasible time (GIS 20 TA/DC023 at 3, Q.9)

 

Even where the LDSS is doing TA interviews by telephone, the LDSS must still conduct required drug/alcohol or domestic violence screenings.  These mandatory screenings may also be done by telephone.  (Soc Serv Law §§ 132 and 349-a are suspended through June 6, 2020, by the current declaration of emergency in Executive Order 202.1, extension of time in GIS 20 TA/DC028, subsequent extension of time to July 6, 2020 in GIS 20 TA/DC057.)  LDSS will continue to sanction an applicant who misses a required telephone assessment for drug and alcohol use unless the applicant can show good cause for not participating (GIS 20 TA/DC042 at p.3 Q.6).

All domestic violence waivers issued to Temporary Assistance recipients were extended through July 6, 2020 (GIS 20 TA/DC041; subsequent extension of timing in GIS 20 TA/DC057).

 

Emergency Assistance

LDSSs can conduct phone interview for persons with emergencies through July 6, 2020 (GIS 20 TA/DC057 for extension of timing).

 

Even where LDSSs are conducting telephone interviews for TA, they must still screen for emergencies when the application is submitted and meet the emergency need the same day, if present.  This may require face-to-face interaction.  (See GIS 20 TA/DC016 at 2.)

 For Homeless and Emergency Assistance beneficiaries: routine call-in/check-in procedures maybe be reduced in frequency, suspended and/or conducted by phone through July 6, 2020 (extension of timing in GIS 20 TA/DC057). LDSSs are still expected to ensure the needs of persons in emergency housing are met and that they receive necessary services.

Food for Persons in Emergency Housing: restaurant allowances are available to individuals housed in a location where they do not receive meals in their home or are unable to prepare meals at home.  There is also a home-delivery meal allowance.  (See GIS TA/DC023 at 3, Q.11 for more details about both these options.)

Emergency Assistance to Families must be provided to eligible homeless families for transportation needs.  Emergency Safety Net and Emergency Assistance to Adults do not have the same option (GIS 20 TA/DC042 at p.3, Q.9).

LDSSs are still required to respond to an applicant’s declaration of an emergency at the time of application and to provide appropriate notice to an applicant about meeting an immediate need, as outlined in 02 ADM-02.

In GIS 20 TA/DC013, OTDA reminded LDSSs about different eligibility requirements for emergency assistance and ongoing temporary assistance; this is not a change from prior guidance.

 

 

Employment and Training Activities (Both TA and SNAP)

LDSSs must not take negative action against applicants or recipients who fail to comply with an employment requirement that would have required in-person contact during this emergency (GIS TA/DC023 at 5, Note).Mandatory work assignments should be delayed until further notice (GIS 20 TA/DC048 at p.2).

“Any TA or SNAP recipient that is unable to comply with a work activity through May 15, 2020 must be granted good cause if the nonparticipation is due to an inability to participate or concerns with participation due to COVID-19” (GIS 20 TA/DC016 at 3).  The LDSS has the option to suspend or defer E&T activities and requirements for good cause and cite to GIS TA/DC016 as the reason thought May 15, 2020 (id.).

 

Employment orientations may be conducted by telephone, remotely or the LDSS can mail out papers to the recipient.  Note: I foresee problems when the LDSS randomly mails out a pile of papers without any explanation to a public assistance recipient who is expected to comply with E&T requirements to some extent based on the content of the papers.

 

Employment assessments and plans must be completed by telephone within 90 days of case opening and then draft plan mailed out to the recipient after the call (GIS 20 TA/DC048 at 2).

For E&T participants attending an education program that offers a distance learning option, LDSSs should encourage participants to remain enrolled through the distance learning program.  Through May 15, 2020, the 10 hour/week limit on remote education activity (see 08 ADM-07 at 19) is waived; in this waiver period, all remote hours are countable (GIS 20 TA/DC016 at 3).

 

SNAP

SNAP Emergency Allotments were issued for March, April, May 2020 to some households: households receiving SNAP in March, April or May 2020 that were not budgeted at the maximum benefit for their household size received an emergency allotment that brought the household up to the maximum benefit permissible for their household size.  Those SNAP households already receiving a maximum benefits were not be able to receive an emergency allotment.

 

Mandatory Interview Can Be Waived: Applicants and recipients whose identity is verified by the LDSS and who have provided all other mandatory information and verification are NOT required to complete an application interview (GIS 20 TA/DS026 at 1; effective April 1-May 31, 2020;extended to June 30, 2020, by GIS 20 TA/DC054). If both conditions are not met, the interview cannot be waived.  The six factors for mandatory verification are: (1) Identity; (2) Social Security Number; (3) Residency; (4) Gross non-exempt income (earned and unearned); (5) Disability; (6) Alien eligibility.  Please note that 7 CFR 237.2(f) requires that these eligibility factors be verified at all times.  While GIS 20 TA/DC026 allows the districts to approve benefits without an interview, if any of the above conditions have not been met, the district will be required to interview an applicant and the applicant will be required to verify any remaining factors before their case can be approved for ongoing benefits if the factor cannot be verified through “verified upon-receipt data match.”  GIS 20 TA/DC 026 at 1.

 

The interview waiver also includes applicants for expedited benefitsThe only information required to be verified when a household is eligible for an expedited issuance of SNAP is the applicant’s identity (GIS 20 TA/DC026 at 2; 12-INF-06; extended to June 30, 2020, by GIS 20 TA/DC054).  All other verification required to establish eligibility for ongoing benefits can be pended and provided prior to issuance of ongoing SNAP benefits.  The guidance provides that, for expedited SNAP benefits, an applicant need only verify identity in order to be approved for benefits without an interview.  If an applicant has provided a social security number, identity can be verified via the SSN validation process (Section III.E.1 of 12-INF-06).  If the LDSS cannot verify an applicant’s identity, the LDSS may telephone the applicant to attempt to verify identity is verified in order to timely issue the expedited SNAP benefit in accordance with 7 C.F.R. § 273.2(i)(3)(i) .  If an applicant is issued expedited SNAP benefits and then subsequently the applicant verifies all mandatory information, no interview will be required.

Effective May 20-June 30, 2020, telephonic application and telephonic signature on application are available at the LDSS option.  The relevant GIS identifies specifically several ways this may operate in a given LDSS.  See GIS 20 TA/DC049 for detailed description of the options. Extension for the month of June 2020 in GIS 20 TA/DC055.

For those applying for SNAP due to current job loss, LDSS may request but not require documentation to support the assertion of job loss.  The LDSS cannot require a SNAP applicant to provide verification of job loss from the prior employer (GIS 20 TA/DC023 at 5, Q.4). Allowable verification could include pending application for Unemployment Insurance Benefits or self-attestation.  LDSS staff should use the best available information and document in the case record what information is used (GIS 20 TA/DC042 at p.5, Q.1).

Certification periods:

It is unclear at this time how any potential overpayment resulting from extended certification periods will be treated when operations return to normal at some point in the future.  Households that were due to submit an interim or periodic report during April or May should not have been penalized for failing to return the form; if the household did return the form, the LDSS should have processed changes that resulted in increasing the household’s benefits.

 

For the months of April 2020, through the end of the month following the month in which the current public health emergency terminates, ABAWD work requirements are suspended (GIS 20 TA/DC021 at 1).  ABAWDs currently facing termination will remain on benefits and those who are not currently receiving benefits may immediately reapply and complete the application process for benefits without having to “regain eligibility” under the ABAWD rule in 7 C.F.R. § 273.24(d). All ABAWDs who were unable to meet the ABAWD work requirement in March of 2020 and were coded in the computer system as non-compliant with work requirements (ABAWD indicator code “AB”) were issued good cause by mass computer system change on or shortly after April 21, 2020 (described in GIS 20 TA/DC033).

 

All tax offsets for the purpose of recovering unpaid SNAP debts have been rendered inactive and will not be collected until further notice.  No new notices will go out and any currently pending review requests will be extended beyond the standard 30 day timeframe.

 

LDSSs have the option to temporarily raise the collection threshold for SNAP overpayment claims to $500 (rather than the $125 amount set forth in 05 ADM-15) for active SNAP cases; note—this does not change the claim amount for closed SNAP cases.  Disappointingly, OTDA has not directed LDSSs to alter their practices related to investigations and program violations at this point.

 

Additionally, the guidance provided reminders to the LDSSs about options they could undertake in operating SNAP right now, if they have not already done so.  These options include:

 

HEAP

Per GIS TA/DC015 (effective March 13, 2020, and continuing until further notice), the in-person application and interview requirement is suspended for HEAP applicants.  The mandatory interview may conducted by telephone.  The application itself and supporting eligibility documents may be submitted by mail, fax or mobile application, where available (Broome, Clinton, Chemung, Livingston, and St. Lawrence counties).

Effective April 24, 2020, a third Emergency benefit will be available to eligible households experiencing a crisis or life threatening heat or heat-related energy emergency.  The eligibility criteria and application processing requirements for the third Emergency HEAP benefit will be the same as prior Emergency HEAP benefits.

Regular and Emergency HEAP benefits will operate through the close of business June 30, 2020 or until the funds are exhausted, whichever occurs first.  LDSSs and alternate certifiers must accept applications for the Regular and Emergency HEAP through close of business (COB) June 30, 2020 unless notified otherwise.  Mail-in applications postmarked, or electronic applications received on or before June 30, 2020 meet the deadline and must be processed.  The functionality to submit online HEAP applications through myBenefits website will be disabled at 5:00 pm on June 30, 2020 unless notified otherwise.

 

Child Support

Applications for the child support enforcement unit may be obtained from the child support enforcement hotline or online, in addition to in-person at the LDSS.  The LDSS referral for child support may be issued to a TA applicant and then returned by mail to the child support enforcement unit (CSEU) by mail with any support documentation.  The CSEU will then follow up with the applicant/recipient by telephone.

 

The CSEU has flexibility in determining whether or how a person must appear for purposes of support cooperation (GIS 20 TA/DC016 at 4, emphasis supplied).  Telephone messages, email or regular mail may all constitute an “appearance” for purposes of cooperation.  State regulation, 18 NYCRR 347.5, does not place a specific time limit on the cooperation requirement, so LDSS may delay determinations of cooperation in light of current public health conditions.

LDSS offices are encouraged but not required to set up telephone customer service lines for child support.

 

Fair Hearings

OTDA has authorized an immediate six-month pilot project of fair hearings by telephone, video conference, or “other means.”  An in-person hearing will still be available when:

 

  1. the applicant or recipient makes a request for an in-person hearing,
  2. in the judgment of OAH or the Hearing Officer, a party’s due process rights would best be served by conducting a hearing in-person, or
  3. in the judgment of OAH or the Hearing Officer, there are circumstances presented by the appellant which make proceeding with the hearing by telephone, video, or other means inadvisable.

 

Interpreters will be available for appellants with language access needs the same way for these alternate formats as they would for in person hearings.

Appellants and their authorized representatives will be instructed to send copies of documentary evidence to OAH in advance of the hearing.  OAH will provide all evidence electronically to the Hearing Officer.  The Hearing Officer will transmit any documentary evidence received from the Appellant to the Agency via encrypted email.

 

Relevant Guidance Documents

 

Please note: Do not send us any nonpublic information about any legal matter for which you seek legal representation until we request that you do so. Empire Justice attorneys will inform you if and when your matter is considered for legal representation. Until that time, any information you provide WILL NOT be considered confidential, and NO attorney-client relationship is formed by communications received through this website. Any information available on the website is for general legal education purposes only, and is not legal advice.


Standard of Need by County

Posted on January 30th, 2020

Standard of Need Charts

 

Click here for the current standard of need charts for all 58 social services districts which have been in  effect since October 1, 2012. Please note that each district has two charts – one for households with children; one for households without children. The column that says “Total” in the middle of the chart contains the grant for each household size when the household does not incur heating costs separate from rent.

Each row contains the grant component for a different household size, ranging from 1-8.  At the bottom of the chart, which is in Excel, are tabs for each county in alphabetical order. Please click on the tab to get the standard of need for the county you want to see.

If the household pays for heat in addition to rent, the standard of need will include a heating/fuel allowance which is based on the type of heat (i.e., oil, gas, electricity). Determine the standard of need from the chart based on type of heat and family size and add in to get the GRAND Total.

Please note that some social services districts provide supplements to the public assistance grant to pay shelter costs for individuals and families facing homelessness. It is important to read all the eligibility criteria of each county’s plan, The most recent plan as of (date) can be found by clicking on the name of the county below:

Clintonlimited to single and childless couples on Safety Net Assistance.

Columbialimited to single and childless couples on Safety Net Assistance

Greenelimited to single and childless couples on Safety Net Assistance

Jeffersonlimited to single and childless couples on Safety Net Assistance

Madison limited to single and childless couples on Safety Net Assistance

Monroelimited to TANF and Safety Net Assistance MOE families

Nassaufor single and childless couples on Safety Net Assistance

Nassau– for families with children

New York City – for working homeless families with children

New York City – for homeless families with children and families being reunited with children from foster care

Orangefor families with children under the age of 18

Otsegolimited to single individuals and childless couples who have applied for SSI or Social Security Disability

Rocklandlimited to single individuals

Schenectady limited to 25 single individuals in receipt of Safety Net Assistance who have an SSI application pending, or who present as potentially meeting SSI criteria, are homeless, living in motels, domestic violence shelters, or temporary housing. The maximum duration of the shelter supplement will be twenty-four months.

Suffolklimited to active Temporary Assistance cases with children under age 18, or children under age 19 and in school full-time, or child only cases, who require the supplement in order to retain permanent housing, relocate to permanent housing from emergency housing or to prevent placement in emergency housing. Sullivan – limited to individuals on Safety Net Assistance

Westchesterfor individuals on Safety Net Assistance

Westchesterfor families with children

Click Here for a comparison of the standard of need for a family of three to the poverty level for each social services district.

 

July 1, 2012 Standard of Need Charts

 

The 2012-2013 New York State budget increased the public assistance grant by 5% effective July 1, 2012.  A second increase will go into effect in October.  Click here for the public assistance standards of need reflecting the July 1 grant increase.  There are two charts for each county – one for households with children, and one for households without children.

To view the 2010 county level standard of need charts, click here.


Flexible Fund Transfers to Child Care

Posted on July 12th, 2019

 

Every year, counties are given the option to supplement their allocation of Child Care Block grant money from the state budget by drawing down money from the Flexible Fund for Family Services. The Flex Fund, as it is known, is  a nearly $1 billion dollar set aside of federal funds from the federal Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) Block Grant administered by the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance. In budget year 2011-12 , fourteen counties drew down 6.2 million dollars from the Flex Fund to help needy families pay for child care.  In 2018-19, only two counties, Nassau and Onondaga, made use of that funding, and the amount totaled  $1.5 million. Linked here is a chart showing year by year, which counties have drawn down Flex Fund dollars to invest in child care.

We recommend you view the PDF here.

chart depicting the flexible fund transfers to child care


Policy Resource: Number of Child Care Hours Social Services Districts Allow for Parents Who Work the Night Shift

Posted on May 21st, 2019

 

Number of Hours Social Services Districts Allow for Parents Who Work the Night Shift

We recommend you view the PDF here.

 

Pie Chart depicting the Number of Child Care Hours Social Services Districts Allow for Parents Who Work the Night Shift. 32 districts allow 8 hours; 2 districts allow 7 hours; 10 districts allow 6 hours; 3 districts allow 5 hours; 10 districts allow 0 hours.

 

Social Services District Maximum Hours of child care Notes
Albany 8 third shift only; applies to the day following that shift only
Allegany 8 third shift only; for pre-school children or school closings
Broome 8 third shift only; for children who are not in school and for children 9 years old or younger during non-school days.
Cattaraugus 8 when no other adult in the home that is appropriate to care for the child(ren) during sleep hours
Cayuga 8 third shift only; no one else available to care for the child
Chautauqua 7 third shift only; will also be required to verify work schedules before sleep time will be approved.
Chemung 8 third shift only;  child/ren are not attending school
Chenango none
Clinton none
Columbia 6 third shift only
Cortland 8 second or third shift only
Delaware 8 Second or third shift; verification of work hours required
Dutchess 8 Second or third shift;  Day Care Unit Director and the Deputy Commissioner determines necessity
Erie none
Essex 8 Only if the provider is not living in the household
Franklin 8 limited to hours when child(ren) are in the home and without the care of another responsible adult, parent/caregiver; prior approval required
Fulton 6 Only if the parent works during the time the family would normally be sleeping
Genesee none
Greene 8 Non-school aged children, work scheduled must be verified with the Agency
Hamilton none
Herkimer 6 third shift only
Jefferson 6  second and third shift; “the household composition and the age of the children will be taken into consideration”
Lewis 8 hours worked must be reported to the district by the parent
Livingston 8 “the number of hours allowed is equal to the length of the work shift”
Madison 8 Second and third shift; not to exceed 16 hours of child care in any 24 hour period or more than eight hours while the parent sleeps
Monroe 6 Third shift only; requires administrative approval and documentation
Montgomery 8 Third shift only; Agency will verify that there are non-school age child/ren prior to authorizing payment
Nassau none
Niagara none
NYC none
Oneida 8 third shift only
Onondaga 8 third shift only; “decisions on the amount will generally be based on the ages of the children, work schedule of parent(s)”
Ontario 8 will add transport time; parents work different shifts
Orange 8 third shift only; written verification of work schedule from employer required
Orleans 6 third shift only; verification of work schedule required
Oswego 8 second or third shift; if funding is available
Otsego 8 second or third shift
Putnam 8 third shift only; documentation from employer required
Rensselaer 8  second or third shift 30 hours max/week; under school age
Rockland 8
Saratoga none
Schenectady 8 must be single parent working 11:00pm-7:00am
Schoharie 8 parents work same shift
Schuyler 8 third shift only
Seneca 6 third shift only; 6 hour limit only when the child is not in school
St. Lawrence 6 Approval based on the household composition, age of child/ren and the need.
Steuben 5 beginning at end of shift
Suffolk 5 third shift only; limited to part-day and is evaluated based on the age and school attendance of the child
Sullivan 5 second or third shift; details of who is providing the child care and where it is provided is required
Tioga 6 third shift; must be requested by the parent/relative and the situation must be that there is a lack of child care
Tompkins 8 second or third shift
Ulster 6 second or third shift;  sleep time is determined as half the number of hours the caretaker worked
Warren 6 third shift only; single parent only
Washington 8 second or third shift only; verification of shift assignment is required
Wayne 8
Westchester 7 must be determined by the district to be absolutely necessary for the health and safety of the child
Wyoming none
Yates 8 single or both parents at work

 

For more information:

Susan Antos, Esq.
518-935-2845
santos@empirejustice.org
May 21, 2019


Article: Banning Income Bias in Housing in New York State

Posted on May 8th, 2019

 

Source of Income Discrimination in Housing

New Yorkers with low and modest incomes often face a formidable barrier to affordable housing: discrimination based on the source of their income.  Many landlords refuse to take tenants who rely on vouchers, rent subsidies or public benefits to pay for housing.  It is estimated that more than 575,000 households in New York receive these subsidies and benefits, and are often denied access to housing for that reason.  The affected households disproportionately include people who are elderly, people who have disabilities, people of color, domestic violence survivors, children, and people who are homeless.  Discrimination based on source of income can seriously restrict the neighborhoods where people with low incomes can live, which can impact opportunities in education, health care, and employment.[1]

 

In response to widespread source of income discrimination, numerous states, counties and cities around the country have enacted laws to outlaw this practice.[2]  This includes a number of counties and cities in New York, but advocates and legislators had not been successful in securing a statewide prohibition against source of income discrimination –  until now.

 

In 2016, a coalition of more than 100 organizations throughout the state came together as BanIncomeBiasNY, led by Enterprise Community Partners, ERASE Racism NY, Fair Housing Justice Center and the New York Housing Conference.  A well-organized, dedicated effort resulted in passage of the “Lawful Source of Income Non-Discrimination Act of 2019.”

 

The Lawful Source of Income Non-Discrimination Act of 2019

Prior to the conclusion of this year’s budget process, it was unlawful to discriminate, in access to housing, against individuals or groups on the basis of their “…creed, color, disability, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, military status, age,  sex, marital status, or familial status.”

 

In this current session, the Legislature adopted, and the Governor signed, the “Lawful Source of Income Non-Discrimination Act of 2019,” amending sections 292 and 296 of the State Human Rights Law (HRL).[3]  The essence of the law is that it prohibits discrimination in housing based on an individual’s source of income, assuming the income is derived from a lawful source.  The new law states that lawful sources of income include:  child support, alimony, foster care subsidies, income from Social Security, all forms of “federal, state or local public assistance or housing assistance, including Section 8 vouchers…” and any other forms of lawful income, HRL §292(36).  The law makes an exception for types of housing assistance where particular eligibility criteria are established by federal or state law.

 

Here are the circumstances in which such discrimination is forbidden.  It is unlawful:

 

The process for initiating a complaint of discrimination against any of the protected classes (race, age, source of income, etc.) with the Division of Human Rights or for commencing a proceeding in court are set forth in HRL §297.  This section also discusses the actions that may be taken when a finding of discrimination is made, including the issuance of a cease and desist order, the imposition of fines and other penalties, and compensatory damages.  In housing discrimination cases, attorney fees may be awarded in a court proceeding, HRL §297(10).

 

Note some limitations in this law:

First, the State Division of Human Rights in its pamphlet on the new source of income law,[8]  states that “… It is not unlawful to ask about income, only to discriminate based on lawful sources of income.  Housing providers may ask about income, and about the source of income… in order to determine a person’s ability to pay for the housing accommodation but must accept all lawful sources of income equally.”

In addition, the State Human Rights Law does not cover rental units in two-family homes occupied by the owner; rentals in rooming houses occupied by the owner; rental of all rooms to persons of the same sex; and certain senior housing.

 

Impact of the law

A law is only as effective as the quality of implementation and enforcement.  The success of this source of income law will depend upon the capacity and willingness of people throughout the state to take action when there has been discrimination, and the commitment of state government and the courts to act decisively to ensure compliance.  An important impact of this law is the fact that people who have experienced discrimination based on their source of income can now sue in state court or pursue a complaint with the State Division of Human Rights.

 

Effective implementation of this law should improve the ability of low-income New Yorkers who pay housing costs with the help of subsidies, vouchers and public benefits to access affordable housing.  The source of their income can no longer be used as a basis for the denial of housing.  Research has shown that holders of Housing Choice Vouchers are significantly more successful in finding suitable housing in localities covered by source of income laws.[9]

This change should better enable New Yorkers with low incomes to achieve a greater degree of stability in their housing, which is essential to greater stability in their lives, with resulting improvements in family well-being, health, educational and employment outcomes.[10]

 

Related Empire Justice Center work

Empire Justice spoke out in support of the BanIncomeBiasNY effort to end discrimination based on source of income while focusing on related housing security efforts.  We have been deeply involved in the effort to win legislative passage of the Home Stability Support (HSS) initiative.  HSS is a critical proposal that would significantly supplement the amount of rent that people receiving public assistance can receive, thereby helping them to secure or maintain decent, stable housing.

 

In addition, we have noted in this article that victims of domestic violence are one of the groups disproportionately subject to source of income discrimination.  The Family Violence Option (FVO) is a program in which victims of domestic violence who apply for public assistance are able to advise the Department of Social Services that they are in an abusive situation and are then referred for needed services and are given waivers of certain welfare requirements that might make them more vulnerable.  You can read more about the Family Violence Option, the ways in which is succeeds, and the ways in which it could be improved to better serve survivors of domestic violence in our new report, Poverty and Violence: Does New York’s Family Violence Option Make a Difference?

 

Both the Home Stability Support legislative effort and the Family Violence Option report share a common goal with the source of income legislation: improving the capacity of New Yorkers to attain greater stability and opportunity in their lives.

 

 

 

[1] Recent testimony at a joint legislative Government Operations Committees hearing by advocates from BanIncomeBiasNY provides an excellent source of background information on source of income discrimination,  https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfxgZfnvn8AWAYswgUR2doqiO6wT4-QbR5AknHelq0_iJ0LBg/viewform.

[2] For a list of states, counties and cities that have adopted source of income laws, see “Source of Income Discrimination in Housing” on the website of Affordable Housing Online,  https://affordablehousingonline.com/source-of-income-antidiscrimination-laws.

[3] The Human Rights Law is part of the Executive Law.  It covers prohibitions against discrimination in a number of areas.  The sections we are focusing on address discrimination in housing.

[4]  This provision about refusal to sell, rent, etc., applies to publicly-assisted housing, §296(2-a)(a); all other housing, §296(5)(a)(1); and housing, land and commercial space, §296(5)(c)(1).

[5]  This provision about housing, furnishing and services, applies to publicly assisted housing, §296(2-a)(b); all other housing, §296(5)(a)(2).

[6]  This provision about inquiring about income sources applies to publicly-assisted housing, §296(2-a)(c); all other housing, §296(5)(a)(3); and housing, land and commercial space,  §296(5)(c)(2).

[7]  This provision applies about circulating housing information applies to publicly-assisted housing, §296(2-a)(c-1); all other housing , §296(5)(a)(3); housing, land and commercial space, §296(5)(c)(2).

[8] This is a useful pamphlet, entitled “Source of Income Discrimination in Housing,” https://dhr.ny.gov/sites/default/files/pdf/nysdhr-income-source-discrimination.pdf.

[9] U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development Office of Policy Development and Research, “Study on Section 8 Voucher Success Rates, ” November, 2001.

[10] See for example, M. Galvan and J. Luna, “Homelessness and Housing Instability:  The Impact on Education Outcomes,” Urban Institute, December 2014; M. Horowski, et al, National Poverty Center Policy Brief, “Housing Instability and Health,” University of Michigan, 2012; M. Desmond and C. Gershenon, “Housing and Employment Insecurity Among the Working Poor,” Social Problems, 2016.