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
There are many options in New York City to apply for Cash Assistance.
Apply using a Paper Application
Fax or drop off a paper application at the local Job Center. A paper application can be downloaded “here”;https://otda.ny.gov/programs/applications or by calling 311.
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.
HRA is offering training webinars on ACCESS HRA. These trainings are open to everyone. For a general overview of ACCESS HRA and the provider portal case management tool, visit: https://booknow.appointment-plus.com/9z3xxln8/?&service_id=39119.
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.
Apply by Phone
Call the HRA Infoline 718-557-1399. There is a signature waiver in place that permits 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. The waiver is in effect through July 31, 2021.
In-Person at a local Job Center: https://www1.nyc.gov/site/hra/locations/job-locations-and-service-centers.page. Please note that not all NYC Job Centers are fully reopened.
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 are still required. Typically, these interviews would take place in person however, there is a waiver in place to conduct these interviews over the phone. This waiver is in effect through September 30, 2021. HRA staff will reach out directly to the client to complete an interview.
DRUG/ALCOHOL AND DV SCREENINGS
Drug/alcohol screenings and domestic violence screenings are taking place over the phone through September 30, 2021. A Job Center worker will call the applicant to complete the interview.
This requirement can be fulfilled if using ACCESS HRA to apply for CA.
Changes in Cash Assistance Recertification Procedures
There are no additional extensions for CA recertification. Therefore, all households who are required to recertify by July 31, 2021, must do so. Recertification notifications were sent out at the end of May and the ability to recertify began June 1, 2021.
Recertifications can be completed online via ACCESS HRA.
Typically, these interviews would take place in person however, there is a waiver in place to conduct these interviews over the phone. This waiver is in effect through September 30, 2021. HRA staff will reach out directly to the client to complete an interview.
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.
CASH ASSISTANCE SIX MONTH MAILER
After June 30, 2021, NYC HRA will resume closing cases for those households who do not complete and return the Cash Assistance six-month mailer.
To submit the six-month mailer, households can take pictures of their completed and signed six-month mailer and upload it through the ACCESS HRA mobile app.
Changes in the Cash Assistance Program Requirements
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.
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.
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
When the pandemic began, HRA lifted employment sanctions for CA recipients who contacted HRA and state a willingness to comply. Demonstrated compliance is suspended until further notice.
As of July 2021, the New York City Office of Child Support Services (OCSS) Borough Offices and Customer Service Walk-In Center is still closed. In addition, the New York City Family Courts are also closed for child support matters.
DRUG AND ALCOHOL SCREENINGS
Applicants/recipients (A/R) must complete a drug and alcohol screenings by phone with HRA staff through September 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.
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
ECONOMIC IMPACT PAYMENTS
The Economic Impact payments (EIP) (up to $1,400 per eligible individual) are 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.