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Cash Benefits

Cash Assistance: Changes under COVID-19

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Summary

Eligibility requirements for Cash Assistance remains the same. However, the application process and program requirements have been modified under COVID-19. Changes include how to apply for Cash Assistance, replacement of in-person interviews with telephone interviews, suspended program requirements, extended recertifications and more.

The NYC Human Resource Administration (HRA) has published many of these changes at https://www1.nyc.gov/site/hra/important-information-about-covid-19-and-your-hra-benefits.page. For HRA’s FAQ, visit: https://www1.nyc.gov/site/hra/help/dss-covid19-faqs.page.

If you are a Benefits Plus subscriber, for additional information on Cash Assistance, refer to Cash Benefits, Cash Assistance. For subscription information visit: https://bplc.cssny.org/home/subscription_options.

Changes in Cash Assistance Application Procedures

JOB CENTERS

Typically, Cash Assistance applicants would apply at their local district, in NYC it is an HRA Job Center, for other districts go to https://otda.ny.gov/workingfamilies/dss.asp.

Currently not all HRA Job Centers are open. To find open Job Centers, visit https://www1.nyc.gov/site/hra/locations/job-locations-and-service-centers.page. Applicants/recipients should not visit a Job Center unless absolutely necessary.

APPLICATION AVENUES

The application for Cash Assistance remains the same; it is the LDSS-2921 and can be found at http://otda.ny.gov/programs/applications.

Via Internet

  • Applicants in NYC are strongly encouraged to use NYC ACCESS HRA, http://www.nyc.gov/ACCESSHRA. ACCESS HRA is an online portal where Cash Assistance and Emergency Assistance applications may be completed and submitted. For help with creating an account and user guides, click here.
    • Required documentation can be submitted (uploaded) electronically via the HRA Mobile app found on Apple Store or Google Play.
  • Applicants outside NYC can apply for Cash Assistance online via myBenefits
    • Required documentation can be submitted (uploaded) electronically via NYDocSubmit mobile, found on Apple Store or Google Play.

NYC ACCESS HRA Training Webinars

HRA is offering training webinars on ACCESS HRA that provides guidance on the Cash Assistance application process. These trainings are open to everyone. In addition, HRA allows CBO’s and elected officials access to a client’s case through the ACCESS HRA Provider Portal case management tool. This tool allows CBO’s to assist their clients with the application process, recertification and other challenges their clients may face. The client must grant access to the CBO to allow them to view their case.

Via Phone

Households can apply for CA via the HRA Infoline 718-557-1399 through June 30, 2021.

SIGNATURE WAIVER

There is a waiver in place for the application signature for the CA applications through June 30, 2021. This waiver permitted HRA staff to complete applications over the phone and sign on behalf of clients who are not able to complete applications independently using ACCESS HRA.

HOMEBOUND APPLICANTS

Home Bound clients and individuals with disabilities who cannot or do not want to use ACCESS HRA can request a Home Visit, which is available by calling Constituent Services: 212-331-4640, 311 or emailing Ctr90HVNRequests@hra.nyc.gov . Staff conducting these home visits will adhere to the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s guidelines and protocols for such visits.

ELIGIBILITY INTERVIEWS

While typically an eligibility interview is required for all Cash Assistance applicants, OTDA has received an in-person interview waiver through June 30, 2021 and all eligibility interviews will take place over the phone. HRA staff will reach out directly to the client.

DRUG/ALCOHOL AND DV SCREENINGS

Drug/alcohol screenings and domestic violence screenings will now take place over the phone through June 30, 2021. A Job Center worker will call the applicant to complete the interview.

RESOURCES

Center for Independence of the Disabled
https://www.cidny/nyconnects
844-862-7930

Can assist with the application/recertification process and needed documentation.

Changes in Cash Assistance Recertification Procedures

EXPIRING RECERTIFICATIONS

OTDA has expanded the recertification extension period through June 30, 2021 for expiring Cash Assistance cases, which means they are eligible for a 6-month extension. Cases that have previously received a recertification six-month extension for Cash Assistance are not eligible for a second extension of the recertification period.

Households who are required to recertify will receive a telephone call from HRA, which will conduct the interview via the phone.

Signature Requirement

NYC has received an extension through June 30, 2021 for a Cash Assistance signature waiver for applications taken over the phone by HRA staff using ACCESS HRA. This option is available for recipients who are homebound or have challenges using ACCESS HRA.

CASH ASSISTANCE SIX MONTH MAILER

There will be no negative action for Cash Assistance recipients who were required to submit a 6-month mailer due between January 1 and June 30, 2021.

CA recipients can use the ACCESS HRA mobile app to upload the CA six-month mailer and any supporting documentation.

REPORTING CHANGES IN RESIDENCE

Recipients are required to receive Cash Assistance benefits in the county where they reside. Recipients who travel outside of their district for a limited period of time are permitted to do so without reporting a change. Those who plan to change their residence need to report to the district where they have been living. That district will note the change and close the case, with the district maintaining responsibility for benefits for the month following the month of the move. Clients may then file with the new local district office once they have moved.

REPORTING CHANGES IN INCOME

Cash Assistance recipients should report income changes, including the loss of a job, via ACCESS HRA. Documentation may include paystubs, employer letter, layoff/termination letter, or attestation of loss of employment form a client when one cannot be obtained from their employer.

Changes in the Cash Assistance Program Requirements

OVERVIEW

Cash Assistance program requirements have not been eliminated, but certain procedures have been suspended and all in-person appointments have been waived.

No negative action will be taken for recipients who miss a scheduled appointment at a Job Center, as well as other HRA offices, which includes the Office of Child Support Services and Career Service providers during the pandemic.

WORK REQUIREMENTS

Districts must continue to suspend all required in-person work activity assignments until further notice.

Employment Assessments

Districts are required to complete employment assessments and employment plans for applicants and recipients within 90 days of the date of eligibility for households with dependent children.

During this public health crisis, employment assessments and employment plans should be completed via telephone contact.

Good Cause

Any Cash Assistance recipient unable to comply with a work activity must be granted good cause if their inability to comply is due to COVID-19 until further notice.

COVID-19 issues may include the inability of individuals to attend agency employment appointments, including work activity assignments, due to factors such as lack of transportation, lack of child-care, worksite closures, or legitimate concerns about using public transportation or other factors regarding work participation

Sanctions

HRA has lifted employment sanctions for CA recipients who contact HRA and state a willingness to comply, and have suspended all employment-related requirements. Demonstrated compliance is suspended until further notice.

HRA has also called clients with an employment sanction to inquire if they are willing to comply. When HRA was able to successfully reach these households, and when these households agreed to comply, HRA lifted their non-durational sanctions. Demonstrated compliance can be established by expressing a willingness to comply in the future.

CHILD SUPPORT

The New York City Office of Child Support Services (OCSS) Borough Offices and Customer Service Walk-In Center will be closed until further notice. In addition, the New York City Family Courts are also closed for child support matters.

Households with a child support sanction can restore Cash Assistance and Medicaid benefits by informing the NY City Office of Child Support Services that they are willing to comply with the child support program. Clients can call 929-221-7676 or email dcse.cseweb@dfa.state.ny.us , or write to the NYC Office of Child Support Services, PO Box 830, Canal Street Station, New York, NY 10013. Clients should provide their name, case number and contact information.

Letters were mailed to clients with a child support sanction informing them of this. For more information go to https://www1.nyc.gov/site/hra/help/child-support-services.page.

DRUG AND ALCOHOL SCREENINGS

Applicants/recipients (A/R) must complete a drug and alcohol screenings by phone with HRA staff through June 30, 2021. A/R can be sanctioned for failure to comply, if they do not have good cause for completing a telephone screening.

A/Rs should not be sanctioned for non-compliance with drug and alcohol treatment, if an in-person contact with providers is required.

Cash Assistance and Medicaid

Discontinued Cash Assistance cases that require a separate Medicaid eligibility determination will have Medicaid coverage extended until further notice.

Lost EBT Cards

Lost cards should be reported immediately to prevent fraudulent use. If an applicant/recipient has lost their EBT card, call the NYS OTDA at 888-328-6399 to cancel the card and request a replacement by mail.

Replacement by mail will take 5-7 days for households to receive their card. Cards can also be requested by setting up can online EBT account at https://www.connectebt.com. Clients can use this account to request a replacement card, check card balance, review transaction history, change a PIN, and more.

If there is an emergency and recipients must obtain a replacement card on the same day, they have the option to visit an Over the Counter (OTC) site. OTC site is open from 8:30 am – 5:00 pm. To pick up a replacement card the individual must have a valid photo ID and visit the Brooklyn OTC site at 227 Schermerhorn Street – Ground Floor.

How COVID-19 Cash Aid Impacts Cash Assistance

CORONAVIRUS ECONOMIC IMPACT PAYMENTS

The Economic Impact payments (EIP) (up to $1,400 per eligible individual) are not countable for Cash Assistance (CA).

In addition, payments are excluded as a resource for twelve months from the date of receipt. The payments cannot be counted toward the $2,000/$3,000 resource limit for 12 months. For more information go to https://otda.ny.gov/policy/gis/2021/21DC015.pdf.

FEDERAL PANDEMIC UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION

The $300/$100 FPUC payments are excluded as income and disregarded as a resource when determining eligibility for Cash Assistance. Payments that are received retroactively, are excluded as income and not subject to the lump sum provisions. For more information, go to https://otda.ny.gov/policy/gis/2021/21DC015.pdf.

Pandemic Unemployment Compensation was treated differently under the CARES Act, for more information go to https://otda.ny.gov/policy/gis/2020/20DC035.pdf

For more information on the expanded unemployment benefits refer to COVID-19 Resources, Expansion of Unemployment Insurance.

LOST WAGES ASSISTANCE PROGRAM

The additional supplement of $300 per week to individuals receiving unemployment benefits is considered emergency assistance and therefore will not count as income or a resource for Cash Assistance.

For more information on the lost wages program refer to COVID-19 Resources, Expansion of Unemployment Insurance, Lost Wages Assistance Program.