This bill has been amended

Bill S4830-2013

Clarifies conciliation procedures in cases when the recipient of public assistance programs refuses to comply with employment program requirements

Clarifies conciliation procedures in cases when the recipient of public assistance programs refuses to comply with employment program requirements in a city having a population of one million or more persons.

Details

Actions

  • May 29, 2014: REPORTED AND COMMITTED TO FINANCE
  • Jan 8, 2014: REFERRED TO SOCIAL SERVICES
  • May 31, 2013: COMMITTEE DISCHARGED AND COMMITTED TO RULES
  • Apr 25, 2013: REFERRED TO SOCIAL SERVICES

Meetings

Votes

VOTE: COMMITTEE VOTE: - Social Services - May 29, 2014
Ayes (3): Avella, Sanders, Squadron
Ayes W/R (1): Farley
Nays (2): Ball, Martins

Memo

BILL NUMBER:S4830

TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the social services law, in relation to clarifying notice requirements conciliation procedures and sanctions in cases when the recipient of public assistance programs refuses to comply with employment program requirements

PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL: The bill enables local districts to promote re-engagement of welfare recipients in welfare work activities to-either avoid or end sanctions. This bill shifts the focus of the local district to re-engaging clients as soon as Possible in work activities and facilitates the transition from welfare to work.

SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS:

§ 1 - Amends Section 341 of the Social Services Law to:

* require agency to determine if there is an exemption, lack of child care or transportation or an accommodation for disability before issuing a re-engagement notice. Such re-engagement notice shall guarantee the right of a participant to participate in a re-engagement process and avoid a pro-rata reduction in public assistance benefits. Such process shall mean the process through which the participant agrees to comply with any requirements, give reasons for default or demonstrates exemption at a conciliation conference. Such notice shall provide the participant with ten days to request reengagement and indicate the district has verified the availability of child care, transportation and accommodations for disability at the time of default. It is further provided that if a participant does not agree to comply, is not exempt or the district determines that the default was willful and without good cause ten days notice of intent shall be issued to discontinue or reduce benefits. Such notice shall include the verifications listed above, actions necessary to avoid discontinuance or reduction, including agreeing to comply, and the right to a fair hearing.

* prohibit sanction during the re-engagement process and establish that if person is otherwise participating in work activities, then there should be no sanction based on single infraction.

* retain conciliation, but only as the most formal tool that a client could use to avoid a sanction.

* establish a written reminder of ability to comply after 30 days of non-compliance.

* institute the right to cure by client either agreeing to comply or notifying the district of their exemption.

§ 2 - Amends Section 342 of the Social Services Law to eliminate durational sanctions.

§ 3 - provides for an immediate effective date.

JUSTIFICATION: Currently, individuals receiving public assistance from local social services districts may have their public assistance payments reduced or stopped due to noncompliance with various rules

promulgated by the social services districts. These social services districts currently implement these sanctions for certain specific durations. These sanctions are punitive to the most at-risk and vulnerable members of our society. When implemented; they remove the client's ability to afford food, housing and various other public assistance guaranteed by the State constitution. When these payments are revoked, it leads to hunger in families an- often leads to the commencement of eviction proceedings, which then increases the client's reliance on the social services safety net due to their need for emergency food and shelter.

Under the current process, even where the client misses just one appointment, the local social services district is required to expend time and resources focused on sanctioning the client rather than re-engaging the client in work activities as soon as possible. Not only would this bill enable the local social services districts to focus time and resources on the key goal of engagement, it would assist clients in keeping on track with their work activities

This bill allows for a more streamlined conciliation process by focusing on re-engaging the client.

PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: 2010 Session - Similar to A.11409 which was reported from Social Services to Codes 2012 Session - S.6910 - referred to Social Services, no further action.

FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: Savings to the State.

EFFECTIVE DATE: This act shall take effect immediately.


Text

STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 4830 2013-2014 Regular Sessions IN SENATE April 25, 2013 ___________
Introduced by Sen. SAVINO -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Social Services AN ACT to amend the social services law, in relation to clarifying notice requirements conciliation procedures and sanctions in cases when the recipient of public assistance programs refuses to comply with employment program requirements THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. Section 341 of the social services law, as amended by section 148 of part B of chapter 436 of the laws of 1997, subdivision 1 as amended by section 1 of part D of chapter 61 of the laws of 2006, is amended to read as follows: S 341. [Conciliation] RE-ENGAGEMENT; CONCILIATION; refusal to partic- ipate. 1. (a) Consistent with federal law and regulations and this title, IF A PARTICIPANT HAS FAILED OR REFUSED TO COMPLY WITH THE REQUIREMENTS OF THIS TITLE AND THE DISTRICT HAS DETERMINED THAT HE OR SHE IS NOT EXEMPT FROM SUCH REQUIREMENTS AND HAS VERIFIED THAT APPROPRI- ATE CHILD CARE, TRANSPORTATION, AND ACCOMMODATIONS FOR DISABILITY WERE IN PLACE AT THE TIME OF SUCH FAILURE OR REFUSAL, [if a participant has failed or refused to comply with the requirements of this title,] the social services district shall issue a RE-ENGAGEMENT notice in plain language indicating that such failure or refusal has taken place and of the right of such participant to [conciliation to resolve] AVOID A PRO- RATA REDUCTION IN PUBLIC ASSISTANCE BENEFITS THROUGH THE RE-ENGAGEMENT PROCESS. "RE-ENGAGEMENT PROCESS" SHALL MEAN THE PROCESS THROUGH WHICH A PARTICIPANT MAY AVOID A PRO-RATA REDUCTION IN PUBLIC ASSISTANCE BENEFITS BY AGREEING TO COMPLY WITH THE REQUIREMENTS OF THIS TITLE CONSISTENT WITH ANY MEDICAL CONDITION WHICH MAY LIMIT THE INDIVIDUAL'S ABILITY TO PARTICIPATE IN WORK ACTIVITIES, BY NOTIFYING THE DISTRICT THAT HE OR SHE HAS BECOME EXEMPT FROM THE REQUIREMENTS OF THIS TITLE, OR BY RESOLVING the reasons for such failure or refusal [to avoid a pro-rata reduction
in public assistance benefits for a period of time set forth in section three hundred forty-two of this title]
AT A CONCILIATION CONFERENCE. THE NOTICE SHALL INDICATE THAT THE PARTICIPANT HAS TEN DAYS TO REQUEST RE-ENGAGEMENT WITH THE DISTRICT. The notice shall indicate the specific instance or instances of willful refusal or failure to comply without good cause with the requirements of this title and the necessary actions that must be taken to avoid a pro-rata reduction in public assistance benefits AND THE DISTRICT HAS VERIFIED THAT APPROPRIATE CHILD CARE, TRANSPORTATION AND ACCOMMODATIONS FOR DISABILITY WERE IN PLACE AT THE TIME OF SUCH FAILURE OR REFUSAL. [The notice shall indicate that the participant has seven days to request conciliation with the district regarding such failure or refusal in the case of a safety net partic- ipant and ten days in the case of a family assistance participant.] (1) IF A PARTICIPANT CHOOSES TO AVOID A PRO-RATA REDUCTION IN PUBLIC ASSISTANCE BENEFITS THROUGH A CONCILIATION CONFERENCE, IT WILL BE THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE PARTICIPANT TO GIVE REASONS FOR SUCH FAILURE OR REFUSAL. The RE-ENGAGEMENT notice shall also include an explanation in plain language of what would constitute good cause for non-compliance and examples of acceptable forms of evidence that may warrant an exemption from work activities, including evidence of domestic violence, and physical or mental health limitations that may be provided at the conciliation conference to demonstrate such good cause for failure to comply with the requirements of this title. UNLESS AS PART OF THE RE-ENGAGEMENT PROCESS THE PARTICIPANT DOES NOT AGREE TO COMPLY, HAS NOT BECOME EXEMPT OR THE DISTRICT DETERMINES AS A RESULT OF THE CONCILIATION CONFERENCE THAT SUCH FAILURE OR REFUSAL WAS WILLFUL AND WITHOUT GOOD CAUSE, NO FURTHER ACTION SHALL BE TAKEN. (2) If the participant does not contact the district within [the spec- ified number of] TEN days OF THE RE-ENGAGEMENT NOTICE, the district shall [issue ten days notice of intent to discontinue or reduce assist- ance, pursuant to regulations of the department. Such notice shall also include a statement of the participant's right to a fair hearing relat- ing to such discontinuance or reduction. If such participant contacts the district within seven days in the case of a safety net participant or within ten days in the case of a family assistance participant, it will be the responsibility of the participant to give reasons for such failure or refusal] MAKE A FINDING OF WHETHER THE ALLEGED FAILURE OR REFUSAL TO COMPLY WAS WILLFUL AND WITHOUT GOOD CAUSE AND SHALL CONSIDER ANY EVIDENCE IN THE POSSESSION OF THE DISTRICT INDICATING THAT THE PARTICIPANT HAS GOOD CAUSE AND IF THE PARTICIPANT IS OTHERWISE PARTIC- IPATING IN WORK ACTIVITIES, THERE SHALL BE NO FINDING OF WILLFULNESS WITHOUT GOOD CAUSE BASED ON A SINGLE APPOINTMENT OR INFRACTION. (b) [Unless the district determines as a result of such conciliation process that such failure or refusal was willful and was without good cause, no further action shall be taken.] If the district determines that such failure or refusal was willful and without good cause, AND THAT THE INDIVIDUAL IS NOT EXEMPT FROM THE REQUIREMENTS OF THIS TITLE, the district shall notify such participant in writing, in plain language and in a manner distinct from any previous notice, by issuing ten days notice of its intent to discontinue or reduce assistance. Such notice shall include the reasons for such determination, the specific instance or instances of willful refusal or failure to comply without good cause with the requirements of this title, SHALL VERIFY THAT APPROPRIATE CHILD CARE, TRANSPORTATION AND ACCOMMODATIONS FOR DISABILITY WERE IN PLACE AT THE TIME OF SUCH FAILURE OR REFUSAL, AND SPECIFY the necessary actions that must be taken to avoid a pro-rata reduction in public assistance
benefits, INCLUDING AGREEING TO COMPLY WITH THE REQUIREMENTS OF THIS TITLE CONSISTENT WITH ANY MEDICAL CONDITION WHICH MAY LIMIT THE INDIVID- UAL'S ABILITY TO PARTICIPATE IN WORK ACTIVITIES OR NOTIFYING THE DISTRICT THAT HE OR SHE HAS BECOME EXEMPT FROM THE REQUIREMENTS OF THIS TITLE and the right to a fair hearing relating to such discontinuance or reduction. [Unless extended by mutual agreement of the participant and the district, conciliation shall terminate and a determination shall be made within fourteen days of the date a request for conciliation is made in the case of a safety net participant or within thirty days of the conciliation notice in the case of a family assistance participant.] 2. (a) The department shall establish in regulation a conciliation procedure for the resolution of disputes related to an individual's participation in programs pursuant to this title. (b) The district shall contract with an independent entity, approved by the department, or shall use designated trained staff at the supervi- sory level who have no direct responsibility for the participant's case to mediate disputes in the conciliation conference. [If no such supervi- sory staff or independent entity is available, the district may desig- nate another trained individual, who has no direct responsibility for the participant's case to mediate disputes in the conciliation confer- ence.] (c) If a participant's dispute cannot be resolved through such concil- iation procedure, an opportunity for a fair hearing shall be provided. No sanction relating to the subject dispute may be imposed during the [conciliation] RE-ENGAGEMENT process. 3. When any [family assistance] participant required to participate in work activities fails to comply with the provisions of this title, the social services district shall take such actions as prescribed by appro- priate federal law and regulation and this title. 4. [When any safety net participant required to participate in work activities fails to comply with the provisions of this title, the social services district shall deny assistance to such participant in accord- ance with section three hundred forty-two of this title. 5. (a) To the extent that] CONSISTENT WITH federal law [requires] AND THIS TITLE, a social services district shall provide to those [family assistance] participants whose failure to comply has continued for [three months] THIRTY DAYS or longer a written reminder of the option to end a sanction [after the expiration of the applicable minimum sanction period] by terminating the failure to comply as specified in subdivision [three] ONE of this section. Such notice shall advise that the partic- ipant may immediately terminate the [first or second] sanction by [participating in the program or accepting employment and that any subsequent sanction after six months have elapsed may be terminated by participating in the program or accepting employment. (b) A social services district shall provide to those safety net participants whose failure to comply has continued for the length of the sanction period or longer a written reminder of the option to end a sanction after the expiration of the applicable minimum sanction period by terminating the failure to comply as specified in subdivision four of this section.] EITHER AGREEING TO COMPLY WITH THE REQUIREMENTS OF THIS TITLE CONSISTENT WITH ANY MEDICAL CONDITION WHICH MAY LIMIT THE INDIVID- UAL'S ABILITY TO PARTICIPATE IN WORK ACTIVITIES OR NOTIFYING THE DISTRICT THAT HE OR SHE HAS BECOME EXEMPT FROM THE REQUIREMENTS OF THIS TITLE. [6.] 5. Consistent with federal law and regulation AND THIS TITLE, no NOTICE SHALL BE ISSUED AS SPECIFIED IN SUBDIVISION ONE OF THIS SECTION
UNLESS IT HAS BEEN DETERMINED THAT THE INDIVIDUAL IS NOT EXEMPT FROM THE REQUIREMENTS OF THIS TITLE AND HAS DETERMINED THAT APPROPRIATE CHILD CARE, TRANSPORTATION AND ACCOMMODATIONS FOR DISABILITY WERE IN PLACE AT THE TIME OF SUCH FAILURE OR REFUSAL TO COMPLY WITH THE REQUIREMENTS OF THIS TITLE AND NO action shall be taken pursuant to this section for failure to participate in the program or refusal to accept employment if: (a) child care for a child under age thirteen (or day care for any incapacitated individual living in the same home as a dependent child) is necessary for an individual to participate or continue participation in activities pursuant to this title or accept employment and such care is not available and the social services district fails to provide such care; (b) (1) the employment would result in the family of the participant experiencing a net loss of cash income; provided, however, a participant may not claim good cause under this paragraph if the social services district assures that the family will not experience a net loss of cash income by making a supplemental payment; (2) net loss of cash income results if the family's gross income less necessary work-related expenses is less than the cash assistance the participant was receiving at the time the offer of employment is made; or (c) the participant meets other grounds for good cause set forth by the department in its implementation plan for this title which, at a minimum, must describe what circumstances beyond the household's control will constitute "good cause". S 2. Section 342 of the social services law, as added by section 148 of part B of chapter 436 of the laws of 1997, is amended to read as follows: S 342. Noncompliance with the requirements of this title. 1. In accordance with the provisions of this section an individual who is required to participate in work activities shall be ineligible to receive public assistance if he or she fails to comply, without good cause, with the requirements of this title AND THE DISTRICT HAS DETER- MINED THAT HE OR SHE IS NOT EXEMPT FROM SUCH REQUIREMENTS AND HAS VERI- FIED THAT APPROPRIATE CHILD CARE, TRANSPORTATION, AND ACCOMMODATIONS FOR DISABILITY WERE IN PLACE AT THE TIME OF SUCH FAILURE OR REFUSAL. Such ineligibility shall be for the amount and [periods] PERIOD specified in this section. Good cause for failing to comply with the requirements of this title shall be defined in department regulations, provided, howev- er, that the parent or caretaker relative of a child under thirteen years of age shall not be subject to the ineligibility provisions of this section if the individual can demonstrate, in accordance with the regulations of the office of children and family services [department], that lack of available child care prevents such individual from comply- ing with the work requirements of this title. The parent or caretaker relative shall be responsible for locating the child care needed to meet the work requirements; provided, however, that the relevant social services district shall provide a parent or caretaker relative who demonstrates an inability to obtain needed child care with a choice of two providers, at least one of which will be a regulated provider. 2. In the case of an applicant for or recipient of public assistance WHOM THE DISTRICT HAS DETERMINED IS NOT EXEMPT FROM THE REQUIREMENTS OF THIS TITLE AND who is a parent or caretaker of a dependent child, the public assistance benefits otherwise available to the household of which such individual is a member shall be reduced pro-rata[:
(a) for the first instance of failure to comply without good cause with the requirement of this article]
until the individual is willing to comply WITH THE REQUIREMENTS OF THIS TITLE CONSISTENT WITH ANY MEDICAL CONDITION WHICH MAY LIMIT THE INDIVIDUAL'S ABILITY TO PARTICIPATE IN WORK ACTIVITIES[; (b) for the second instance of failure to comply without good cause with the requirements of this article, for a period of three months and thereafter until the individual is willing to comply; (c) for the third and all subsequent instances of failure to comply without good cause with the requirements of this article, for a period of six months and thereafter until the individual is willing to comply]. 3. In the case of an individual who is a member of a household without dependent children WHOM THE DISTRICT HAS DETERMINED IS NOT EXEMPT FROM THE REQUIREMENTS OF THIS TITLE AND WHO IS applying for or in receipt of safety net assistance, the public assistance benefits otherwise avail- able to the household of which such individual is a member shall be reduced pro-rata[: (a) for the first such failure or refusal], until the failure or refusal TO COMPLY WITH THE REQUIREMENTS OF THIS TITLE CONSISTENT WITH ANY MEDICAL CONDITION WHICH MAY LIMIT THE INDIVIDUAL'S ABILITY TO PARTICIPATE IN WORK ACTIVITIES ceases [or ninety days, which ever period of time is longer; (b) for the second such failure or refusal, until the failure ceases or for one hundred fifty days, whichever period of time is longer; and (c) for the third and all subsequent such failures or refusals, until the failure ceases or one hundred eighty days, whichever period of time is longer]. 4. A recipient of public assistance WHOM THE DISTRICT HAS DETERMINED IS NOT EXEMPT FROM THE REQUIREMENTS OF THIS TITLE AND who quits or reduces his hours of employment without good cause OR DUE TO ANY MEDICAL CONDITION WHICH MAY LIMIT THE INDIVIDUAL'S ABILITY TO PARTICIPATE IN WORK ACTIVITIES shall be considered to have failed to comply with the requirements of this article and shall be subject to the provisions of this section. 5. A person described in paragraph (b) of subdivision seven of section one hundred fifty-nine of this chapter may not be sanctioned if his or her failure to comply with requirements of this title are related to his or her health status. S 3. This act shall take effect immediately.

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