Directs the office of temporary and disability assistance, in its plan for the low-income home energy assistance program, to utilize the maximum reduction in determining income eligibility.
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the social services law, in relation to the low-income home energy assistance program
PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL: To ensure that the office of temporary and disability assistance, in submitting the annual plan for the low income home energy assistance program to the federal government, will utilize the maximum reductions to income in determining income eligibility.
SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS:
Section 1 amends subdivision 1 of Section 97 of the social services law to direct that, after January 1, 2015, the NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) shall utilize a definition of net income in their annual LIHEAP plan which allows for the most expansive deductions from gross income in order to retain eligibility under the plan.
Section 2 provides the effective date of the legislation.
JUSTIFICATION: The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is a federally funded energy program intended to provide assistance to low income households in meeting their immediate home energy needs. To receive federal funding, each state must submit a State Plan for approval to the United States Department of Health and human Services (HHS) each year.
The federal government does not provide a set definition of "income" under the LIHEAP program. New York currently utilizes a definition of "income" which excludes certain deductions which are also used in other state temporary assistance programs.
Other states use a threshold qualifier of "net income" with additional deductions from gross income. Use of a similar standard in New York would allow more individuals and families with slightly higher income levels to qualify for HEAP. In extreme and long lasting winter weather conditions many people are caught in situations where they are just above the applicable income levels but are unable to qualify for assistance. This can result in their power being shut off. As a result, many have to resort to the potentially unsafe use of temporary electric heaters or other methods of heat. This bill directs OTDA to utilize the broadest possible number of income deductions, consistent with federal eligibility standards in determining a qualifying income. This will help insure that many people who are very close to the current income standards will be eligible to receive existing help in keeping their power on, especially during frigid Northeast winters.
PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: New bill.
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: None to the state. LIHEAP is a federally funded block grant program.
EFFECTIVE DATE: This act shall take effect immediately and apply to NY State HEAP plans filed after this January 15, 2015.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 6665 IN SENATE February 25, 2014 ___________Introduced by Sen. YOUNG -- 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 the low-income home energy assistance program THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. Subdivision 1 of section 97 of the social services law, as added by chapter 785 of the laws of 1983, is amended to read as follows: 1. The
[department]OFFICE OF TEMPORARY AND DISABILITY ASSISTANCE is authorized to develop and submit to the governor the application and plan required by title twenty-six of the federal omnibus budget recon- ciliation act of nineteen hundred eighty-one, and to amend and to take whatever other action may be necessary with respect to such plan, including, but not limited to, acting for the state in any negotiations relative to the submission of such plan, and making such arrangements and taking such action, not inconsistent with law, as may be required to submit, implement, administer and operate such plan, and to secure for the state the benefits available under such act. FOR PLANS SUBMITTED AFTER JANUARY FIRST, TWO THOUSAND FIFTEEN, SUCH OFFICE SHALL EVALUATE INCOME ELIGIBILITY PURSUANT TO A DEFINITION OF NET INCOME, OR PURSUANT TO A DEFINITION OF ADJUSTED GROSS INCOME WHICH INCORPORATES GROSS INCOME REDUCTIONS TO THE MAXIMUM EXTENT CONSISTENT WITH FEDERAL PLAN ELIGIBIL- ITY REQUIREMENTS. S 2. This act shall take effect immediatelyEXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD13778-01-4