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.
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
The application for Cash Assistance remains the same; it is the LDSS-2921 and can be found at http://otda.ny.gov/programs/applications.
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.
Applicants in NYC are strongly encouraged to use 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.
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.
- For a general overview of ACCESS HRA and the provider portal case management tool, visit: https://booknow.appointment-plus.com/9z3xxln8/?&service_id=39119.
- The ACCESS HRA Provider Portal is a way for organizations to view real-time benefit information for their clients. For an in-depth presentation of the Provider Portal visit: https://booknow.appointment-plus.com/9z3xxln8/?&service_id=39185.
- To enroll in a Cash Assistance simulation application, visit: https://booknow.appointment-plus.com/9z3xxln8/?&service_id=39105.
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.
While typically an eligibility interview is required for all Cash Assistance applicants, eligibility interviews, drug/alcohol screenings and domestic violence screenings will now take place over the phone through June 6, 2020. A Job Center worker will call the applicant to complete the interview.
Changes in Cash Assistance Recertification Procedures
CA cases that had recertifications expiring in March, April, or May 2020 were automatically extended for three months. Nothing is required and cases will remain open until further notice.
CA cases that have a recertification expiring at the end of June 2020 will be automatically extended for six months.
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 deferred until June 6, 2020.
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 must continue to suspend all required in-person work activity assignments until further notice.
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
HRA has lifted employment sanctions for CA recipients who contact HRA and state a willingness to comply. Demonstrated compliance is suspended until further notice.
Office of Child Support Services referrals have been rescheduled for after June 1, 2020.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org , 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.
DRUG AND ALCOHOL SCREENINGS
Applicants/recipients (A/R) must complete a drug and alcohol screenings over the phone with HRA staff through June 6, 2020. 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.
Lost EBT Cards
Lost cards should be reported immediately to prevent fraudulent use. If an applicant/recipient has lost their EBT card, call 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.
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 CARES Act Economic Impact payments (EIP) (up to $1,200 per individual, $500 per qualifying child) are not countable for Cash Assistance (CA). However, asset rules are different.
For CA households the EIP will be excluded as a lump sum for the month of receipt and the following two months. For example, if a household receives the payment(s) in April 2020, HRA should not count it as income or a resource for April and must exempt it as a countable resource for May and June. In July, if the household has remaining funds from the EIP, the district must count the remaining funds as a non-exempt resource.
PANDEMIC UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION
The $600 per week in Pandemic Unemployment Compensation will count as unearned income when determining eligibility for CA. (https://otda.ny.gov/policy/gis/2020/20DC035.pdf)
Retroactive UIB payments will be subject to CA lump sum rules.