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AG James, Cuomo again renew suspension of state debt collection as coronavirus continues to impact New Yorkers' wallets

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Tue, Jun 16th 2020 10:30 am

New Yorkers with student, medical & other state debt referred to AG’s office will have payments frozen for an additional 30 days

New York Attorney General Letitia James and Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday announced the state has, for the third time, renewed an order to halt the collection of medical and student debt owed to New York that has been specifically referred to the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) for collection for an additional 30-day period.

In response to continuing financial impairments resulting from the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the OAG will again renew the orders tomorrow, Wednesday, June 17, through Thursday, July 16. After this 30-day period, the OAG will reassess the needs of state residents for another possible extension. Additionally, the OAG will accept applications for suspension of all other types of debt owed to the state of New York and referred to her office for collection.

“While the number of coronavirus cases across New York may be on the decline, and the number of businesses opening back up may be on the rise, New Yorkers are still very much feeling the economic impact of this public health crisis each and every day,” James said. “More than 2.6 million New Yorkers filed for unemployment in the last three months, so we will continue to look for ways to protect each of these individuals’ wallets, and the wallets of millions more across our state. We hope that by, once again, suspending the collection of state student and medical debt referred to my office, we are doing what we can to support New Yorkers and reduce their burden in these difficult times.”

Cuomo said, “As we continue our work to stop the spread of the virus, we recognize that New Yorkers are still struggling with both emotional pain and economic hardship as a result of this crisis. By renewing the suspension on the collection of student and medical debt that is referred to the attorney general’s office for an additional 30 days, we are helping to lessen the burden faced by so many individuals, families and businesses whose livelihoods have been affected by the pandemic. I’m grateful to the attorney general for her partnership.”

Millions of New Yorkers, like Americans across the nation, have been impacted – directly or indirectly – by the spread of COVID-19, forcing them to forgo income and business. Since COVID-19 began to spread rapidly across the country in mid-March, more than 44 million residents across the nation have filed for unemployment, including more than 2.6 million in New York alone.

The OAG collects certain debts owed to New York via settlements and lawsuits brought on behalf of the state and state agencies. A total of more than 165,000 matters currently fit the criteria for a suspension of state debt collection, including, but not limited to:

√ Patients who owe medical debt due to the five state hospitals and the five state veterans’ homes;

√ Students that owe student debt due to State University of New York (SUNY) campuses; and

√ Individual debtors, sole-proprietors, small business owners and certain homeowners that owe debt relating to oil spill cleanup and removal costs, property damage, and breach of contract, as well as other fees owed to state agencies.

The temporary policy has also automatically suspended the accrual of interest and the collection of fees on all outstanding state medical and student debt referred to the OAG for collection, so New Yorkers are not penalized for taking advantage of this program.

New Yorkers with non-medical or non-student debt owed to the state of New York and referred to the OAG may also apply to temporarily halt the collection of state debt. Individuals seeking to apply for this temporary relief can fill out an application online or visit the OAG’s coronavirus website to learn more about the suspension of payments. If an individual is unable to fill out the online form, they can also call the OAG hotline at 1-800-771-7755 to learn more.

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