Introduction 855-2015 Automatic Benefits

Date of Introduction: 
07/23/2015
Legislative Status: 
Committee: 
Plain English Summary: 

Upon passage the bill would initially provide:

  • “Automatic Benefits Notices” would be provided to applicants for one benefit when they are likely to qualify for additional benefits, along with a copy of the other application and instructions.
  • Automatic pre-filled applications and renewals would be provided using information from previous applications to pre-fill other benefits applications for which they are likely to qualify.
  • Providing assistance with completion of applications over the phone through 311, online, or in person at city agencies.
  • In all cases individuals would be able to receive materials electronically and decline benefits.

The forward thinking bill would phase in with new features as federal and state laws change:

  • “Automatic Benefits” would automatically provide applicants with all additional benefits for which they qualify without additional applications, when their initial application provided all the necessary information. This would phase in when federal or state laws allowed for consolidation or waiver of applications.
  • “Automatic Benefits Notices from Tax Filings” would be provided to tax filers with benefits for which they were pre-qualified along with copies of applications and instructions. This would phase in when Federal or State laws allowed for sharing of tax filing information between Federal, State and City governments.
  • “Automatic Benefits Pre-Filled Applications from Tax Filings” would be provided to tax filers with benefits for which they were pre-qualified along with pre-filled copies of applications and instructions. This would phase in when Federal or State laws allowed for sharing of tax filing information between Federal, State and City governments and pre-filling of applications.
  • “Automatic Benefits from Tax Filings” would be provided to tax filers with benefits for which they qualified without further application. This would phase in when federal or state laws allowed for sharing of tax filing information between federal, state and city governments and consolidation or waiver of applications.

In order to fulfill mandates required by the bill the government would be required to provide:

  • “Automatic Benefits Renewal” to automatically renew benefits using information that government already has sufficient to maintain an individuals continued eligibility for benefits.
  • “Universal Benefits Application” combining existing public benefits applications into a single application for all public benefits.
  • Technological infrastructure for the system using free and open source software, through a process that allowed the Federal as well as State and municipal governments to join in the process in order to minimize costs and promote sharing among governments.
Legislative Text: 

Int. No. 855-A

By Council Members Kallos, Wills, Rosenthal, Reynoso, Rose and Richards

A Local Law to amend administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to notification of public assistance eligibility

Be it enacted by the Council as follows:

Section 1. Chapter 1 of title 21 of the administrative code of the city of New York is amended by adding a new section 21-138 to read as follows:

§ 21-138 Notification of public assistance eligibility

a. Definitions. For the purposes of this section, the following terms have the following meanings:

Notice. The term “notice” means a written communication sent through the mail or, with the consent of an individual, through electronic means with the ability to track and confirm delivery.

Public assistance. The term “public assistance” means all forms of public benefits provided by the federal government, state of New York, or city of New York that an individual may apply for through the department including but not limited to: cash assistance; the home energy assistance program; medicaid; and the supplemental nutrition assistance program.

Renewal. The term “renewal” means the automatic or affirmative act of recertifying or re-applying for public assistance, as may be required on a periodic basis, for an individual already receiving such public assistance.

b. For every individual who submits an application for a public assistance, or is in receipt of public assistance, the department shall determine other forms of public assistance for which the individual may qualify based on the individual’s public assistance application, and the department shall provide the individual with the following:

1. Notice of any additional public assistance for which the individual may qualify. Such notice shall include a copy of the applicable applications and instructions on how to apply for such public assistance. In instances where public assistance may be applied for or renewed online, individuals shall be provided with a link to access the application or renewal online. Individuals shall have the opportunity to decline receiving applications or renewals in paper.

2. Pre-filled applications with information obtained from the individual’s initial public assistance application. For a form of public assistance that requires renewal where the recipient is already receiving such public assistance, the department shall provide the recipient a renewal application that has already been filled with applicable information obtained from the individual’s last public assistance application and instructions. In instances where public assistance may be applied for or renewed online, the individual shall be provided with a link to securely access the applicable public benefit application online that has been filled with information obtained from the individual’s last public benefit application along with instructions. The individual shall have the opportunity to decline receiving applications or renewals in paper.

c. Beginning no later than six months after the effective date of the local law that added this section, the department shall submit to the council and post on its website a plan describing the efforts the department is undertaking to enroll all individuals eligible for public assistance, and shall include the number of individuals the department seeks to enroll on an annual basiss. Such plan shall be updated annually.

d. Beginning no later than one year after the effective date of the local law that added this section, the department shall submit to the council and post on its website the number of individuals offered assistance pursuant to this local law and the number of such individuals enrolled in a public assistance program, disaggregated by program type.

e. The city shall provide individuals with assistance in completing public assistance applications online, over the phone through 311 and at the agency accepting public assistance applications.

§ 2. This local law takes effect immediately

AV
LS #869                    
4/8/16

 

Int. No. 855

By Council Member Kallos

A Local Law to amend administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to requiring the human resources administration/department of social services to use income tax filings to determine eligibility for public benefits.

Be it enacted by the Council as follows:

Section 1. Chapter 1 of title 21 of the administrative code of the city of New York is amended by adding a new section 21-136 to read as follows:

§ 21-136 Determination of public benefits eligibility. a. Definitions. For the purposes of this section, the following terms have the following meanings:

Public benefits. The term “public benefits” means all forms of public assistance funded by the federal government, state of New York, or city of New York that an individual may apply for through the human resources administration/department of social services or any other agency of the city of New York including but not limited to: cash assistance; the  home energy assistance program; medicaid; the supplemental nutrition assistance program; the women, infants, and children program; the commodity supplemental food program; the New York state food and nutrition program; the housing choice voucher program (section 8); the senior citizen rent increase exemption; and the disability rent increase exemption.

Income tax filing. The term “income tax filing” means the federal department of the treasury internal revenue service forms 1040 for United States individual income tax return, W-2 wage and tax statement, 1099 miscellaneous income, the department of taxation and finance for the state of New York form IT-201 for resident income tax return, or any form used by an individual in the city of New York to report on their income for the purpose of payment of taxes on a periodic or annual basis.

Filer. The term “filer” means a person who has filed an income tax filing.

Notice. The term “notice” means a written communication sent through the postal mail or, where an individual agrees, through electronic means with the ability to track and confirm delivery.

Pre-qualified. The term “pre-qualified” means that the human resources administration/department of social services or other agency of the city of New York has determined based on information received from a filer’s tax return that the filer meets the requirements to qualify for a public benefit.

Renewal. The term “renewal”  means the automatic or affirmative act of recertifying or re-applying for public benefits for an individual already receiving such public benefits as may be required on a periodic basis.

b. Universal benefits application. The department shall combine public benefits applications into a single application for all public benefits to the extent that applicable laws or regulations of the federal government or the state of New York allow.

c. Automatic benefits renewal. The department shall automatically renew public benefits using information that the department has that is sufficient to maintain an individual’s continued eligibility for public benefits to the extent that applicable laws and regulations of the federal government and the State of New York allow.

d. Automatic benefits from income tax filings.  For each filer who submits an income tax filing by April 15 annually or within 6 months of the department's receipt of information from a filer’s income tax filing, the department shall do the following:

1. The filer shall receive any public benefits for which they qualify without additional applications in such cases as the information from the income tax filing is sufficient to qualify such filer for public benefits and applicable laws or regulations do not require additional information. For public benefits received by the filer under this paragraph that require renewals, the subsequent filing of income tax filings where the filer continues to be eligible shall constitute a renewal. The filer shall receive written notice and information on how to decline such public benefits. Where applicable laws or regulations of the federal government or the state of New York prevent the sharing of information from income tax filings with the city of New York, require additional information to determine eligibility for public benefits, or prevent such an eligibility verification process, the department shall follow the requirements set forth in the following paragraph.

2. The department shall provide the filer with applications that have been filled with applicable information obtained from the filer’s income tax filing for which the filer has been pre-qualified. For public benefits received by the filer under this paragraph that require renewal where the filer is already receiving such public benefits, the filer shall be provided with a renewal application that has already been filled with applicable information obtained from the filer’s income tax filing or from the filer’s last application for such public benefits, with instructions. In instances where public benefits may be applied for or renewed online, filers shall be provided with a uniform resource locator to securely access the applicable public benefit application that has been filled with information obtained from the filer’s income tax filing or from the filer’s last application for such public benefits, and filers shall have the opportunity to decline receiving applications in paper. Where applicable laws or regulations of the federal government or the state of New York prevent the sharing of information from income tax filings with the city of New York, or require additional information to determine eligibility for public benefits, the department shall follow the requirements set forth in the following paragraph.

3. The department shall notify the filer regarding any public benefits for which the filer has been pre-qualified along with a paper copy of the applicable public benefits application and its instructions. For public benefits received by the filer under this paragraph which require renewal where the filer is already receiving such benefits, the filer shall be provided with a paper copy of the applicable public benefits renewal application with instructions. In instances where public benefits may be applied for online, filers shall be provided with a uniform resource locator to access the applicable public benefit application, and filers shall have the opportunity to decline receiving applications in paper. Where applicable laws or regulations of the federal government or the state of New York prevent the sharing of information from income tax filings with the city of New York, or require additional information to determine eligibility for public benefits, the department shall follow the requirements set forth in the following paragraphs.

e. Automatic Benefits.  For each individual who submits any application for public benefits to the city of New York, the department shall determine other public benefits for which the individual is qualified based on the individual’s public benefits application, and the department shall provide the individual with the following:

1. All applicable public benefits for which such individual qualifies without any further applications in such cases as the information from the initial public benefits application is sufficient to qualify such individual for public benefits and applicable laws or regulations do not require additional applications. For public benefits received by the filer under this paragraph that require renewal where the filer is already receiving such benefits, the filer shall be provided with a renewal of those public benefits using information that is available to the department that is necessary to renew such benefits. The department shall provide the individual with written notice of the public benefits the individual would be receiving and information on how to decline such public benefits. Where applicable laws or regulations of the federal government or the state of New York require additional information to determine eligibility for public benefits, or prevent such an eligibility verification process, the department shall follow the requirements set forth in the following paragraph.

2. Pre-filled applications with information obtained from the individual’s initial public benefits application for all public benefits for which the individual qualifies.  For public benefits received by the filer under this paragraph that require renewal where the filer is already receiving such public benefit, the filer shall be provided with a renewal application that has already been filled with applicable information obtained from the individual’s last public benefit’s application and instructions. In instances where public benefits may be applied for or renewed online, the individual shall be provided with a uniform resource locator to securely access the applicable public benefit application that has been filled with information obtained from the individual’s last public benefits application along with instructions, and the individual shall have the opportunity to decline receiving applications or renewals in paper. Where applicable laws or regulations of the federal government or the state of New York require additional information to determine eligibility for public benefits, the department shall follow the requirements set forth in the following paragraph.

3. Notice of any additional public benefits for which the individual may qualify, and a copy of the applicable applications and instructions on how to apply for such public benefits. For public benefits received by the filer under this paragraph that require renewal where the filer is already receiving such benefits, the filer shall be provided with a renewal application and instructions. In instances where public benefits may be applied for or renewed online, individuals shall be provided with a uniform resource locator to access the application or renewal and individuals shall have the opportunity to decline receiving applications or renewals in paper.

f. Unless prohibited by the laws of federal government or the state of New York, public benefits applications shall be accepted electronically or by facsimile.

g. The city of New York shall provide individuals with assistance in completing public benefits applications online, over the phone through 311 and at the agency accepting public benefits applications.

h. The department shall build or commission to build a system that is capable of automatically taking machine readable information from an income tax filing or public benefits application or renewal in order to screen individuals for public benefits and fulfill the requirements set forth in this section. Such system shall be developed using a free/libre/open-source software license in order for the department and any partners to retain the ability to modify, improve, upgrade, use of redistribute the software source code. The department shall offer the federal government, the state of New York and others states, and any other municipality within the state of New York or within the United States, an opportunity to participate in the development of this software in exchange for funding.

§ 2. This local law takes effect immediately, except those paragraphs which shall take effect when applicable laws and regulations of the federal government and the state of New York are amended to permit the requirements of this local law.

LS 869
7/15/2015

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