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Hochul signs legislative package to protect rights of public benefit recipients & strengthen access to social services


Fri, Jul 15th 2022 12:50 pm

Legislation requires Offices of Social Services to post notice of recipients' basic rights; ensures certain recipients of SNAP benefits receive 2 EBT credit or debit cards

Gov. Kathy Hochul announced she signed a legislative package of two bills designed to protect the rights of New Yorkers who receive public benefits, and strengthen access to social services. Her team said these two bills will increase transparency on the rights of those applying to receive assistance and improve access to food assistance.

"As New Yorkers continue to recover from the economic pains of the pandemic, it is critical that we ensure that public assistance programs are properly serving our most vulnerable communities," Hochul said. "These bills will educate people across the state on their rights when receiving social services, and ensure that families don't struggle to put food on the table. I am proud to take important steps to protect and empower New Yorkers who receive public assistance, because nobody deserves to experience food or child care insecurity, homelessness, or any other life-threatening stresses."

Legislation (S.3178A/A.5817A) will require the posting of the rights of individuals who are applying to receive assistance. This will notify the recipients of their basic rights, which are established by law, such as a right to a fair hearing, the right to ask about emergency assistance, the right to apply for all benefits and services, the right to ask about child care, the right to free language services, the right to screening and special services if experiencing domestic violence, and the right to a written adequate notice.

Assembly member Pamela J. Hunter said, "When accessing public benefits, it should be clear and concise what you are entitled to. Beneficiaries might not know that they are entitled to hearings, emergency assistance and other services. Physically posting these rights in social services offices is necessary, since those utilizing these benefits may not have adequate internet access.”

Legislation (S.8972A/A.9749B) requires supplemental nutrition assistance programs to provide two electronic benefit transfer credit or debit cards for each household that has more than one parent or guardian residing in the household. This will provide recipients more convenience in utilizing their benefits to feed their families.

State Sen. Julia Salazar said, "With all the pressures families are facing, legislation is necessary to address real needs in our marginalized underserved communities. This is one of those needs. We're making sure that all of the guardians that make up our homes have access to their approved benefits at a moment's notice, and not have to treat one's card like a relay race baton. SNAP is a federal program that helps over 40 million Americans every year, and 1.8 million of those are New Yorkers.”

Assembly member Simcha Eichenstein said, "It's difficult enough when families who receive SNAP benefits must live under the constant pressure of feeding their children. Now they will no longer have to endure the inconvenience of sharing a card between two heads of households. This commonsense legislation is a simple, effective and practical solution to a frustrating and senseless problem.”

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