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CORONAVIRUS INFORMATION

Resources, Policy Changes, New Court Procedures, and Practice Area Updates.

During this crisis, NYLAG is here for you.

Browse the resources and information below, or call the NY COVID-19 Legal Resource Hotline here.

RESOURCES

A yellow house under water

Options for Homeowners during COVID-19—FAQs Answered

On July 10th, 2020, NYLAG held a live Q&A discussing mortgage forbearance, repayment plans, loan modifications, and more. Here’s the pre-recorded video and the FAQs answered.

Hands holding a purple ribbon.

Safety Planning for Domestic Violence Survivors during COVID-19—FAQs Answered

On July 14th, 2020, NYLAG held a live Q&A discussing safety planning while living with an abuser, how to use technology safely, and more. Here’s the pre-recorded video and the FAQs answered.

Children outside with adults in an urban setting wearing winter clothes

Immigration During COVID-19—FAQs Answered

On July 17th, 2020, NYLAG held a live Q&A discussing travel and extending B1/B2 Visas, court reopenings, and more. Here’s the pre-recorded video and the FAQs answered.

LATEST INFORMATION

Our intake lines are open–We are meeting with clients via telephonic and virtual meetings and we are continuing our advocacy efforts. Please note that our physical office is closed in accordance with Governor Cuomo’s orders.

If you have an active case with NYLAG, including an upcoming court case, please reach out to your NYLAG case handler if you have questions.

Our intake is still operating as outlined at nylag.org/gethelp. The page is updated in real time with the latest information on how to contact us.

The NYC Civil Courts are continually updating and changing court procedures. The courts have provided a contact number where you can receive the most up-to-date information, which is available citywide Monday through Friday from 9 am – 5 pm. The number is: 646-386-5409.

Existing Court Cases

If you have any ongoing court case with an upcoming court date, that court date will be postponed automatically until the courts reopen to hear consumer debt cases. You will receive notice of the new date via postcard, which will come from the court. Please make sure to open your mail to check when your new court date will be.

You can also check the eCourts system, New York State’s online database of many cases filed in New York. You can access that here. As stated on the eCourts web site, the information may not be updated with the most recent information.

New Court Cases

  • New court cases can now be filed in the NYC Civil Courts.
  • It is also possible that a case was filed before the courts closed, and you just received notice that a lawsuit was filed.
  • Either way, if you have a case that was filed before the courts closed or was filed since around May 25, 2020, your time to answer has been automatically extended until Sept 4. If you want to file your answer, please make sure you mark your calendar to remind yourself that your time to file an answer will start again on Sept. 4, 2020.
  • To file an answer now, the best option at the moment is to answer by mail since the courts are still not open to receive physical court filings. You can fill out an answer form and mail a copy of the answer to the attorney for the Plaintiff and the court. For consumer credit actions, you can use this form to fill out your answer.

Contact NYLAG (see information below) if you have questions about filling out an answer.

What to Do If You Just Learned about a Default Judgment

Many people first learn about a lawsuit against them when a judgment is enforced (action is taken to collect money allegedly owed).

If your bank account has been frozen or your wages have been garnished, you can go to the court to file a request that the court vacate (get rid of) the judgment against you. This request is called an “Order to Show Cause to Vacate a Default Judgment.”

The New York State Court System offers a free DIY program that can help you write your Order to Show Cause to Vacate the Judgment. That program is available here.

If you want to go to the courthouse to file the papers, you must bring with you proof that you are experiencing a wage garnishment or have a bank freeze. A screen shot on your phone should be sufficient.

If you’re an existing NYLAG client and have specific questions about your case, contact your NYLAG attorney.

  • Family and Supreme Courts are physically  closed except for Emergency filings which include new requests for orders of protection or violations of existing orders, writs, and some juvenile delinquency and child protective matters.
  • Beginning April 13th, the New York State court system will begin handling more than just essential and emergency matters. This is for pending cases only. New cases cannot be filed at this time. The conferences must be done remotely by Skype or telephone.
  • All criminal court, family court and Supreme Court orders of protection are extended by administrative order. Click here for the official order.
  • Family Justice Centers (FJC), staffed by NYLAG and other NYC organizations, are available remotely to provide guidance on immediate safety planning, shelter assistance, and community resources. From Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., clients can call their nearest FJC (information available here: https://www1.nyc.gov/nychope/site/page/family-justice-centers)
  • In the evenings and/or on weekends, clients should call NYC’s 24-hour Domestic Violence Hotline 800-621-4673. For emergencies, as always, call 911.
  • A helpful resource for safety planning during COVID -19 be found here
  • In NYC (only for right now), courts are accepting new filings for child support, as well as filings to modify child support for issues such as having lost their job. To file, pro se litigants may email their applications to: [email protected] or mail applications in to the relevant Family Court. They can also call to get filing assistance from a court clerk, at 646-386-5299. The cases will be date stamped in, so any future order may be retroactive to that filing date, but will not be heard virtually at this time.

If you’re a NYLAG client and have specific questions about your case, contact your NYLAG attorney.

Who qualifies?

  • Tax filers with adjusted gross income up to $75,000 for individuals, and up to $150,000 for married couples filing joint returns will receive the full payment.
  • For filers with income above those amounts, the payment amount is reduced by $5 for each $100 above the $75,000/$150,000 thresholds.
  • Single filers with income exceeding $99,000 and $198,000 for joint filers with no children are not eligible.
  • Undocumented immigrants unfortunately are not eligible. If you are a married “mix status couple” and file taxes jointly, you nor your partner are eligible for this payment.
  • Those receiving VA pension or VA Disability compensation (but have not been filing taxes due to low income) are currently not included as automatic recipients. If this applies to you, you will need to file tax forms.
  • Payments will now go automatically to individuals who receive SSI (Supplemental Security Income) benefits.
  • SSI recipients without children DO NOT need to fill out the IRS form to get the federal stimulus payment. See here. 
  • Social Security recipients and railroad retirees who are otherwise not required to file a tax return are also eligible and will not be required to file a return.
  • Eligible taxpayers who filed tax returns for either 2019 or 2018 will automatically receive an economic impact payment of up to $1,200 for individuals or $2,400 for married couples and up to $500 for each qualifying child.

When will I see my payment?

  • The vast majority of people do not need to take any action. The IRS will calculate and automatically send the economic impact payment to those eligible within three weeks from April 2nd.
  • If the IRS does not have your direct deposit information, there will soon be a web-based portal for individuals to provide their banking information to the IRS online, so that individuals can receive payments immediately as opposed to checks in the mail. See more information here.

Will this stimulus payment affect my eligibility for Public Assistance, Medicaid, SNAP, or Section 8 benefits (or other?)

  • Medicaid. The payment does not count as “income” for Medicaid. If you are age 65+, blind, or disabled, it also will not count as a “resource” for 12 months after you receive it. In other words, it will not affect your Medicaid eligibility.

  • SSI and SSD. SSI will not consider economic impact payments as income for SSI recipients, and the payments are excluded from resources for 12 months.

  • Public Assistance. Stimulus payments are not counted as income for the purposes of Public Assistance. Receipt of the payment is not subject to the lump sum provisions. The payment will be excluded as a resource in the month received and the two months following. Any remaining funds after that will be counted as a non-exempt resource

  • SNAP (Food Stamps). Stimulus payments are not counted as income for the purposes of SNAP. They are an exempt resource in the month received and one month following. Any remaining funds after that will be counted as a non-exempt resource.

  • VA Benefits. The economic impact payment does not count as income or assets for VA purposes. It is important that the check be spent within 12 months of receiving it, because any remaining stimulus money will be considered an asset.

  • Section 8. Because the stimulus payment is not income, it should not affect someone’s Section 8 share.

Other important information:

  • This payment is expected to count as an advanced tax refund and is not counted against entitlement benefits for income or resource purposes.
  • Your stimulus payment cannot be garnished in NYS by any NYS banks, creditors, or debt collectors. 
  • The payment does not count as “income” for Medicaid. If you are age 65+, blind, or disabled, it also will not count as a “resource” for 12 months after you receive it. In other words, it will not affect your Medicaid eligibility.

If you’re a NYLAG client and have specific questions about your case, contact your NYLAG attorney.

Emergency Paid Sick Leave and Family Leave

  • The Families First Coronavirus Response Act provides up to 12 weeks of paid leave for employees whose children’s schools have closed or whose childcare providers are unavailable due to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • In addition, the FFCRA provides up to 2 weeks of paid sick time for those who have been advised by a medical provider to self-isolate due to coronavirus concerns.
  • Guidance has been issued under the new Federal Paid Sick Leave, including a Fact Sheet for Employees, a Fact Sheet for Employers and a Questions and Answers which address how an employer must count the number of their employees to determine coverage; how small businesses can obtain an exemption; how to count hours for part-time employees; and how to calculate the wages employees are entitled to under this law.
  • Aside from the new state and federal emergency measures, employees may be eligible for additional leave under the pre-existing NYS Paid Family Leave Law and the NYC Earned Safe and Sick Time Act.

Discrimination and Retaliation

  • Employers are prohibited from harassing, firing, or discriminating against you because of your race/ethnicity, disability, nationality, and other “protected classes” (e.g., an employer cannot force you self-quarantine simply because you are Asian).
  • It is illegal for employers to retaliate against employees for requesting or asserting their rights under any of the above laws, including for reporting health/safety hazards.

Download an NYLAG know-your-rights workplace fact sheet.

If you’re an NYLAG client and have specific questions about your case, contact your NYLAG attorney.

  • All NYC Financial Empowerment Centers are now remote and taking appointments by phone. To learn how, click here.
  • Click here for a blog about available financial resources, and saving tips.

If you’re a NYLAG client and have specific questions about your case, contact your NYLAG financial counselor.

Mortgage Relief

  • Both the federal government and NYS are establishing relief programs for borrowers who are unable to make mortgage payments due to the impact of the coronavirus crisis. Borrowers should contact their mortgage servicers to discuss options.
  • Borrowers will have to demonstrate a direct financial loss due to the pandemic and the lender will be the one making the final determination if a borrower qualifies for any forbearance or repayment plan.
  • Those who can financially continue to make their mortgage payments should do so.

Foreclosures

  • NYS has started hearing some court cases by telephone or video chat. Contact the court to find out the status of a pending case.
  • Homeowners with pending federal court cases should contact the court asap to find out the status of their case.
  • Many mortgage servicers are not proceeding with foreclosure actions at this time. Contact your mortgage servicer, or their attorney, to see if a pending case has been halted.

If you’re a NYLAG client and have specific questions about your case, contact your NYLAG attorney.

  • New York State has a new rent relief program to help tenants who have lost income during the COVID-19 crisis. The NYS COVID Rent Relief Program will provide eligible households with a one-time rental subsidy that will be sent directly to the household’s landlord. Accepted applicants are not required to repay this assistance. Applications for the COVID Rent Relief Program opened on July 16 and applications must be submitted online or by mail by July 30. Detailed information about the program can be found on the Homes and Community Renewal website: https://hcr.ny.gov/RRP.

Rental/Emergency Assistance AND Ongoing Cash Assistance Benefits

  • Clients can apply for emergency assistance grants as well as ongoing Cash Assistance through ACCESS HRA. To apply for Cash Assistance, a client does not need to apply for an emergency grant, but we do ask questions during the online application process in order to make sure that an emergency grant is not needed to ensure the financial security of the clients. Therefore, every ACCESS HRA Cash Assistance application starts with a series of emergency indicator questions.
  • As provided previously, below are instructions for applying for Cash Assistance through ACCESS HRA. We encourage organizations to sign up for an ACCESS HRA training webinar for additional information on using our online tools. Click here to view the webinar options.
  • To apply for Cash Assistance or a one-time emergency grant (one-shot deal), clients will need to take the following steps:
    1. Visit ACCESS HRA and log-in

    2. Select the ‘Benefits’ link from the menu options on the homepage

    3. Select ‘Start a New Application’

    4. Select the ‘Cash Assistance’ option in the ‘Select Application’ page

    5. Identify any applicable emergency indicators and click ‘Next’

    6. Select the type of benefits you would like to apply for:

      • Cash Assistance

      • One-Shot Deal, or

      • Child Care without Cash Assistance (CILOCA)

    7. Complete and submit the application

    8. Follow instructions on the ACCESS HRA confirmation page and submit required documents using the ACCESS HRA Mobile App.

  • Clients with an active Cash Assistance case can submit a special grant request for rent or utility arrears via ACCESS HRA. To submit a Cash Assistance Special Grant Request, clients will need to:
    1. Visit ACCESS HRA and log-in

    2. Enter identifying information to ‘Find My Case’ and link to your HRA case

    3. Select ‘View Case’ in the ACCESS HRA user home page

    4. Select ‘Request Special Grant,’ located on the left-hand side

    5. Identify the special grant you are requesting, complete the request and submit

    6. Follow instructions in confirmation and submit required documents using the ACCESS HRA Mobile App.

Housing Court 

  • The service of marshal’s notices of eviction in Housing Court cases is still suspended until further notice, but that notice may come soon. Although the eviction execution moratorium is still in effect, landlords can now file new eviction cases in Housing Court except where the property is covered by the federal CARES Act. For the most part, at this time, landlords can only file new cases with the court by mail, so things are moving very slowly now. However, e-filing is coming to Housing Court likely before the end of July 2020, so it is likely that landlords will soon be filing many new cases against tenants. Don’t worry: you still have to be served with hard paper copies of any e-filed documents when a case is filed against you.
  • Housing Court is open for tenants to file cases such as landlord illegal lockouts, apartment repairs, and applications addressing serious repair orders. You can find more information about how to file those types of cases here.
  • All pending Housing Court matters are still postponed. Do not appear. New appearance dates will be sent to you directly. 
  • Right now, you are still obligated to pay rent. However, as a result of a very recently passed law, you cannot be evicted for any rent that became due after March 7, 2020, if you experienced financial hardship after March 7, 2020. But your landlord will still be able to sue you in Housing Court for unpaid rent and get a money judgment. Landlords won’t be able to evict you for post-March 7, 2020 rent until all parts of the state of emergency are lifted, which will likely not be for several months and possibly longer.
  • If you entered into an agreement in court prior to the moratorium that required you to pay rent by a certain date and you can no longer make that payment, your landlord cannot call the marshal/sheriff/law enforcement agency to evict you as long as the moratorium is in effect. Once the moratorium is lifted, they will be able to move forward with eviction, but you will first need to be served with a marshal’s notice.  
  • Please know that the order does not apply to rent demands.  Landlords can still send you letters and rent demands for any rent they claim you owe during this time.   
  • Illegal Lockouts If you are an NYC tenant, you can file a case at an emergency courtroom to be let back into your unit. The courts and the City are referring all post-eviction and illegal lockout cases to the Right to Counsel legal services organizations, regardless of where you live or your income.  
  • Vacate orders are still issued when an apartment is dangerous or illegal, and only city agencies can issue them. Landlords are not legally empowered to directly issue vacate orders. During this crisis, we would expect vacate orders to be rare — in response to truly dangerous situations or as the result of a fire. Once a vacate order is issued, tenants have the right to access relocation services provided by City agencies. Relocation services remain open during the crisis.  

NYCHA and Section 8 Residents 

  • Section 8 Vouchers: While the HPD Section 8 Customer Service Office is closed to the public, the HPD Section 8 team is still available to the public. Voucher holders facing rent hardships due to drops in income should email [email protected] or fax at 212-863-5299.
  • During this time, any HPD Section 8 voucher set to expire will be automatically renewed. Clients do not need to reach out to HPD for an extension. 
  • All subsidy terminations in the process are suspended until further notice. All tenant conferences & briefings are postponed & will be rescheduled. All hearings for appeal are canceled until further notice. HPD will continue to pay the subsidy until final determinations are made.
  • NYCHA Rent Reduction: A household may qualify for an NYCHA rent reduction based on a rent hardship. NYCHA has simplified its Rent Hardship Policy to make it easier to reduce the rent in NYCHA during the COVID-19 crisis.
  • NYCHA accepts applications through an Interim Recertification if an individual’s hours have been cut at work or for loss of a job.
  • Households can now submit Interim Recertifications for Income Changes via a new simplified Self-Service Portal interface.
  • There is no waiting period to apply.
  • Until further notice, NYCHA residents may self-certify their income loss. This means that supporting documents such as pay stubs, a letter from the employer, and/or verification of unemployment benefits, which are usually required to submit the Interim Recertification, are not required at this time.
  • Households now have the ability to contact the Customer Contact Center (CCC) to make these requests over the phone. NYCHA CCC staff is equipped to answer questions related to the Rent Hardship policies put in place in response to the COVID-19 state of emergency. Households can call 718-707-7771 and select option 5.
  • Tenant Protection Information resources for tenants impacted by COVID-19 can be found at the Mayor’s Office to Protect Tenants’ webpage here: Information and Resources for NYC Tenants Impacted by COVID-19.

If you’re an NYLAG client and have specific questions about your case, contact your NYLAG attorney.

Immigration Court

Opening dates for some non-detained courts: Hearings in non-detained cases at courts without an announced date are postponed through, and including, August 21, 2020.

  • The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) New York Asylum Office in Bethpage NY is reopened for interviews. 

  • Please visit the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) website for information on which courts are open.

  • Postponements:

    • All New York immigration court non-detained hearings between now and August 21, 2020, are postponed and you should not appear. New hearing dates should be sent to you.

    • All New York immigration court detained hearings are still being held.

    • Check the court’s website for updated information and postponements.

    • Find out if your case has been rescheduled:

      • For both detained and non-detained cases, you can call the immigration court’s automated system at 800-898-7180 and enter your 9-digit alien registration number (“A number”) to find out if your case has been rescheduled.

ICE Check-ins

  • ICE check-ins are still being conducted electronically. The main ICE location is slowly reopening to the public but there has not been a formal announcement of when ICE will resume in-person check-ins.
  • Check the ICE Twitter feed @ICEgov for updates. An official will call to reschedule for a new check-in date.

US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) Appointments

  • USCIS appointments, biometrics, oath ceremonies, and Asylum Interviews began limited in-person appointments on June 4, 2020.

  • The New York Field Office which includes 26 Federal Plaza and the Bethpage Asylum Office is now open. Interviews and oath ceremonies started in June.

  • Check http://www.uscis.gov for the latest updates. Read this memo on how appointments will be scheduled.

Public Charge

  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced that it would not consider testing, treatment, or preventive care related to COVID-19 for the purposes of public charge, even if public benefits are used for care. Clients can seek necessary medical treatment for COVID-19 without fear.

Health coverage

  • If you are feeling sick but are nervous to go to the doctor because you are undocumented, please know that individuals who are undocumented can enroll in Emergency Medicaid through the Marketplace. Your status will not be shared. Emergency Medicaid covers emergency conditions only.
  • All New Yorkers with low-income regardless of immigration status can access free or low-cost health care at New York City Health + Hospitals locations. Anyone who is uninsured can enroll in the Health + Hospitals Options program at 844-NYC-4NYC.

Because information is changing daily and there is a lot of misinformation, please consult with a lawyer. If you’re a NYLAG client and have specific questions about your case, contact your NYLAG attorney.

How to Apply for Medicaid and Are You Eligible?

The rules are easier for those who are under 65 or, if younger, do not have Medicare. They are discussed first below. See further below for Medicaid for seniors age 65+ or people with disabilities who have Medicare.

  1. If you are under age 65 and do not have Medicare. It is easier to get Medicaid for people in this group because there is no limit on “assets,” which means it does not matter how much money they have in the bank, in investments, or real property.
    • Eligibility is based on their “income” – wages, Social Security, pensions, IRA distributions, regular Unemployment insurance, interest and dividends, and other types of income.
    • If you are under 65 and do not have Medicare, and your income is too high for Medicaid, you may be eligible for the Essential Plan.
    • Here are the income limits for Medicaid and the Essential Plan for singles and couples in this age category. (Bigger households have higher limits).

Household size 

Medicaid (Higher if pregnant or for child under 18) 

ESSENTIAL PLAN 

1 

$1,468 

$2,128 

2 

$1,983 

$2,874 

HOW TO APPLY and LEARN if YOU ARE ELIGIBLE:
WHEN TO APPLY – You can always enroll in Medicaid or the Essential Plan any time of year.
  • For those whose income is too high for Medicaid or the Essential Plan, normally you can only enroll in private Qualified Health Plans on the Marketplace during open enrollment or in special circumstances. However, there is a Special Enrollment Period for anyone to enroll until August 15th. Must apply within 60 days of losing employment-related coverage.
  • Get help with enrolling in any of these plans with a navigator or Community Health Advocates at 1-888-614-5400.
2. People age 65+ or who are younger, disabled and have Medicare

The rules are stricter for people who are age 65 or older or, if younger, have Medicare because of disability. For them, there is a limit on INCOME and also on their ASSETS.

  • See this Fact sheet that explains the rules on eligibility for Medicaid for people age 65+ or younger and disabled.
  • The Economic Stimulus payments and the Pandemic Unemployment benefits ($600/week) DO NOT count as income for Medicaid.
APPLICATIONS
  • These individuals must apply using a paper application at their local Department of Social Services. If they are seeking any community-based long term care services, such as home care or the Assisted Living Program, they must include Supplement A to the application (NYC version – DOH-4495A)(Outside NYC use DOH–5178A). Check with your county to see if they are accepting applications by fax, mail or online. You can consult a Facilitated Enroller for the Aged-Blind-Disabled (outside of NYC)(in NYC) to help you apply.
New York City Information on Medicaid applications for Age 65+, Disabled
  • You can now fax a Medicaid application to 917-639-0732. This includes people applying for Medicaid in order to obtain home care or enroll in a Managed Long Term care plan. You can fax a pooled income trust with the application with the required documents described here.
  • If you have an Immediate Need for home care, you can FAX the Medicaid application and home care request to 1-917-639-0665 – see this Fact sheet for requirements.
  • Your doctor can complete the Form M11q required for Immediate Need requests by telehealth or telephone. The doctor should write in on page 1 for “place of this examination” that assessment was done by telehealth or telephone. If your doctor cannot complete the M11q, they can call in a verbal Order to 212-274-5143, and later provide the signed M11q.
HRA prefers faxing applications during the pandemic, but if you cannot fax:
  • Mail a Medicaid application to HRA–MICSA Mail-in Unit 505 Clermont Ave, 5th floor Brooklyn, NY 11238.
  • If you are applying for Medicaid in order to enroll in a Managed Long Term Care (MLTC) plan, mail your application here:

HRA–HCSP Central Medicaid Unit 785 Atlantic Avenue, 7th Fl Brooklyn, NY 11238

  • To apply in person, there is one Medicaid office open in each borough. You can not apply for Medicaid online if you are 65+ or if you are <65 and you have Medicare.
  • Contact a Facilitated Enroller for the Aged-Blind-Disabled for help with applying (in NYC).
WHAT TO SUBMIT WITH MEDICAID APPLICATION
  • The NYS Department of Health (DOH) has released Relaxed Requirements for Medicaid Eligibility & Enrollment because of the public health emergency. (See also this guidance).
  • YOU DO NOT NEED TO SUBMIT DOCUMENTS to prove the following- you can simply “attest” to:
    • The amount of your income and assets, including the amount of distributions from your IRA.
    • If you want Medicaid in order to obtain home care, a Managed Long Term Care plan, or Assisted Living Program, you must include Supplement A with the application (NYC version – DOH-4495A)(Outside NYC use DOH–5178A). You can write in the types and amount of each of your assets, but do not have to attach proof because of the emergency.
    • Your third-party health insurance, if any.
    • If you are applying for Nursing Home Medicaid, you can attest that you and your spouse have not transferred assets in the last 5 years.
    • YOU DO NOT HAVE TO enroll in Medicare in order to apply for Medicaid if you are 65, or to apply for VA benefits if you are a veteran.
    • YOU STILL NEED TO document your citizenship or immigration status. However, if you do not have documents, you will be given 90 days of coverage while you try to get documentation. If you still can’t get documentation, and there is still an emergency, you will get a 90-day extension.
    • Surplus or Spend-down (Excess Income) –if you met your spend-down or used “Pay-In” for March, or for any month during the emergency, your coverage will be extended for six months. If you are unable to submit a bill, contact your local Medicaid agency. (In NYC, see the instructions here on page 2 under “Surplus”).
    • Any in person-appointment requirements are eliminated at this time.

If you’re a NYLAG client and have specific questions about your case, contact your NYLAG attorney.

For more information about Medicaid during the COVID-19 Emergency see this article.

People who have Medicare and are age 21+ who need Home Care Have TWO Options to apply for Home Care:
  • They are generally required to enroll in a Managed Long Term Care (MLTC) plan in order to receive home care. They must already have been approved for Medicaid by their local Dept. of Social Services to enroll.
    • First, call New York Medicaid Choice to request a “Conflict-free” nursing assessment. These are generally done in your home, but the State Dept. of Health has said that because of the pandemic, part of the assessment may be done by phone or telehealth. 
    • If NY Medicaid Choice approves you for MLTC, contact an MLTC plan to request enrollment. (At this link, scroll down to HEALTH PLAN LISTS and then to LONG TERM CARE PLANS in your area). Normally the MLTC nurse visits you at home, but under State guidance issued March 18th, they should conduct this assessment by phone or telehealth. If they are not willing to conduct the assessment by phone, complain to the State Dept. of Health 1-866-712-71975 or email [email protected] or call ICAN.
    • If you are already in an MLTC plan, and need more services, the plan should conduct the assessment by telephone or telehealth. If they do not, complain to the State Dept. of Health or call ICAN (see above contacts).
  • Another option for people who have Medicare and are age 21+ is to apply to their local Department of Social Services for personal care or Consumer-Directed Personal Assistance based on “Immediate Need.”
    • Physicians can fill out the required physician’s form based on talking to you on the phone or doing a telehealth examination to assess home care needs. In NYC, use the M11q form and outside NYC use the Form DOH-4359). In NYC, if your doctor cannot fill out and the M11q because of the pandemic, they can call in a verbal order to 212-274-5143, but must provide the signed M11q within 120 days.
    • Your local Medicaid office can then conduct the nursing assessment and social assessment by telephone or telehealth.
    • Click here for a Fact sheet on applying for Immediate Need in NYC.

People who do not have Medicare or other health insurance who need home care

    • They are usually in Medicaid managed care plans that provide all of their Medicaid services. To get home care, their physician must fill out the required M11q forms following a remote (telephone or telehealth) examination of the patient to assess home care needs.
    • The plan should be willing to assess their needs doing a phone or telehealth assessment. If they are not, they can complain to the NYS Dept. of Health [email protected]v or (800) 206-8125 or ICAN.

Other Home Care Changes because of the Coronavirus:

    • Periodic home care reassessments are suspended – home care should be reauthorized without requiring a reassessment.
    • CDPAP aide health and immunization assessments are suspended for current aides, but are still required for new CDPAP aides.
    • If you are in a nursing home and have requested that your local Medicaid office, managed care or MLTC plan assess you for home care, the facility director must approve the outside nurse to enter the facility, which is only allowed if it is medically necessary. This may make it difficult to access home care in order to leave a nursing home.
    • According to DOH guidance, home health aides must be screened for illness before meeting with home care recipients. Those who have been potentially exposed need to be self-quarantined.
    • You may voluntarily pause or reduce the home care you receive from an MLTC plan, a managed care plan or your local Medicaid agency. You might want to do this if you are concerned about exposure to the virus, or if your family is able to help you because they are not working. See NYLAG’s Know Your Rights Fact Sheet for MLTC Members about the State’s COVID-19 Guidance for Voluntary Plan of Care Schedule Change (April 23, 2020).

If you’re a NYLAG client and have specific questions about your case, contact your NYLAG attorney.

For more information about Medicaid during the COVID-19 Emergency see this article.

If you already have Medicaid, under the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act, no Medicaid recipient will lose their coverage after March 18, 2020, through the end of the COVID-19 pandemic public health emergency. 

  • If your Medicaid is due for annual recertification, with last year’s authorization ending at the end of March, April, May, June, July, August, September, or October 2020, your Medicaid cannot be discontinued whether or not you return the renewal package. Your Medicaid coverage will be automatically extended for 12 months.
  • If your renewal is pending, no matter what you did or did not submit, your Medicaid cannot be discontinued after March 18, 2020.
  • Also, your Medicaid cannot be discontinued even if you do not respond to a request for information about your assets, or if you do not enroll in Medicare or Veteran’s benefits.
  • Because of a computer error, over 32,000 New York City residents received notice that their Medicaid would be discontinued in early June 2020 because they allegedly did not submit their annuals renewals. As said above, renewals did not have to be submitted. All of these cases have been corrected and Medicaid should continue. If you think your Medicaid was wrongly discontinued since March 18, 2020, and the error was not corrected, please send an email to [email protected].
  • If your SSI or temporary cash assistance was discontinued, or if you were recently enrolled in Medicare, normally you would receive notice to submit renewal forms to keep Medicaid. You may still receive these renewal forms, but because of this emergency, you will automatically keep Medicaid for 12 months, even if you do not return the renewal forms.

If you’re an NYLAG client and have specific questions about your case, contact your NYLAG attorney.

For more information about Medicaid during the COVID-19 Emergency see this article.

Cost-sharing should be waived for COVID-19 testing and treatment in doctor’s offices or emergency rooms, and telehealth services. There is added flexibility for prior authorization requirements, prescription refill limits, and mail delivery of medications.

Also, the federal Medicare agency expanded Medicare coverage for temporary stays in a Skilled Nursing Facility. There is no 3-day hospital stay requirement for Skilled Nursing Facility coverage. Also, if the 100-day limit for Medicare coverage of a rehab stay has been exhausted, renewed Medicare coverage can be authorized, without requiring the usual 60-day period outside of the facility. See more here.

  • See here for updates on the NYS courts.
  • Courts are physically open for essential (emergency) matters only.
  • Starting May 25, e-filing of new non-essential cases will be allowed in NYC. (Unrepresented litigants may continue to file, serve and be served papers through non-electronic means in those cases).
  • The New York State court system is now  handling more than just essential and emergency matters. This is for pending cases and alternative dispute resolution (ADR). The conferences must be done remotely by Skype or telephone.

If you are a client, please reach out to your NYLAG attorney for updates on your case.

  • New Special Enrollment Period has been announced through May 15, 2020 for purchasing insurance coverage through the NY State of Health. If you lost employer coverage, you must apply within 60 days of losing that coverage. Consumers can apply for coverage through NY State of Health on-line at nystateofhealth.ny.gov, by phone at 855-355-5777, and by working with enrollment navigators.
  • Health insurance cost-sharing is waived for coronavirus-related visits. All New York health insurers have been directed to waive cost-sharing expenses related to coronavirus testing, emergency room visits, urgent care, telehealth, and office visits.

If you’re a NYLAG client and have specific questions about your case, contact your NYLAG attorney.

  • From now until May 7, 2020, New York has in place a new law with regard to notarization and witnessing of documents, which will enable documents such as advance directives to be executed via audio-video technology.
  • Read this NYLAG resource for more information on other long-term planning documents.

If you’re a NYLAG client and have specific questions about your case, contact your NYLAG attorney.

  • All in-person Human Resources Administration (HRA) appointments are canceled. No negative case actions are being taken for missed appointments: For appointments that were already scheduled, there will be no negative case action taken for failure to attend.
  • You can use ACCESS HRA to apply for benefits, recertify, and make case changes. HRA has expanded the use of ACCESS HRA for Cash Assistance (CA) applications, including emergency benefits. You are encouraged to upload documents using the mobile app or you can fax documents to their center (a list of job centers with fax numbers is here).
  • The ACCESS HRA mobile app can be used to upload documents needed for eligibility determinations, as well as submitting recertification forms. It can also be used to submit requests for special grants and emergency assistance.
  • Don’t have internet access? You may call INFOLINE at 718-557-1399, and ask for a Cash Assistance / SNAP application to be mailed to them. HRA can process Cash Assistance and SNAP applications over the phone for clients who cannot use ACCESSHRA. HRA has obtained a signature waiver allowing them to process applications for clients over the telephone, for clients who cannot use ACCESSHRA.
  • Are you homebound or do you need a home visit? You may call HRA’s Office of Constituent Services at (212) 331-4640.
  • Emergency Allotments (EA) will be issued to SNAP households that did not receive the maximum allotment for the months of March-June. These households will receive a supplement to bring them up to the maximum benefit level for the household size.
  • EBT cards can no longer be picked up at 109 East 16th Street. All Cash Assistance and SNAP applicants who have been approved for benefits will receive an EBT card in the mail. If an applicant’s EBT card has not yet arrived, they can go to one of seven open center locations for a temporary (Vault) card that will have all benefits available until the EBT card arrives. Please see the list of HRA office locations here. If necessary, applicants can go to the Over the Counter (OTC) service center at 227 Schermerhorn Street in Brooklyn for their permanent card.
  • They can also go online to www.connectebt.com or call EBT Customer Service at (888) 328-6399 for account information or to request that a replacement Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card for SNAP or Cash Assistance be mailed to them.
  • HRA has increased the amount of burial/funeral services allowance from $900 to $1,700 with a funeral cost cap of $3,400. This is available to individuals regardless of immigration status. Click here to obtain more information.
  • Recertification period for Cash Assistance and SNAP have been extended: Cases with certification periods scheduled to end in March-June of 2020 have been extended by 6 months from the original date they were set to expire. There is no extension yet for cases scheduled to expire after June 20, 2020 (check back for an update).
  • Most Job Centers and SNAP centers have closed until further notice: For clients who need to go in person, there will be 7 Job Centers, 5 SNAP Centers, and 10 HASA offices that will remain open. Please visit https://www1.nyc.gov/site/hra/locations/locations.page before visiting any center.
  • Treasury Offset Program suspended: There is a suspension of all offsets through the Treasury Offset Program (affecting those with SNAP overpayments who no longer have an open case). All claims that are currently active in TOP will be inactivated and no additional claims will become active in TOP during the suspension period.
  • SNAP Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependents (ABAWD) rules suspended.

Pandemic EBT:

  • Pandemic EBT is a nutritional assistance program similar to SNAP that provides additional funds for groceries for families with children who are eligible for free or reduced lunch. There is no application process for P-EBT the benefits will be automatically issued by the State to EBT cards for families with eligible children. P-EBT benefits will remain in effect until the end of the scheduled school year (through June 26, 2020).
  • Unlike SNAP, P-EBT is available to people who are undocumented.
  • P-EBT is not counted under the federal public charge rule.
  • SNAP purchasing rules apply

  • Pandemic EBT will be issued in the following manner:

    • For students who had an open SNAP case in March 2020, Pandemic EBT will be issued to their EBT card. The first issuance was supposed to be in the end of May for $193, and the second issuance will be in late June for $227. The total benefit will be $420.

    • Students who have Active Medicaid cases will get the issuance of $420 on a staggered schedule in late June.

    • For students who do or did not receive the above-mentioned benefits, payments of $420 will be issued to their parent/guardian on a benefit card, mailed to them no later than August 31, 2020.

See the “Housing (evictions, NYCHA)” section on this page for information on rental/emergency assistance. 

If you’re a NYLAG client and have specific questions about your case, contact your NYLAG attorney.

  • Social Security offices are closed to the public and all services are being conducted by phone and online. Individuals who cannot complete their Social Security business online should call their local offices directly. The numbers can be found by zipcode here.

  • SSA COVID-19 Policy updates can be found here. All Social Security benefits (disability/retirement/SSI) will be paid out normally.

  • If you received a denial of a disability application, you can file a reconsideration here. If you received a denial of a disability reconsideration, you can file a hearing request here. If you need help filing a reconsideration or a hearing request, you can contact NYLAG for assistance. Please leave your name and phone number and you will receive a callback.

  • Social Security will soon begin to process new suspensions and overpayment collections. If you get a notice about a suspension or termination of benefits, you can contact NYLAG for assistance.

  • If your benefits are currently terminated or suspended but you think you are eligible for benefits, contact SSA by phone to request reconsideration or reinstatement of benefits. These cases are still being processed at the local office level. You can file a reconsideration electronically here. You can contact NYLAG for assistance on these issues.

  • SSA is still holding hearings by phone only. If you want to have an in-person hearing, you need to let SSA know that you do not want a phone hearing. More information about SSA hearings can be found here and the contact information for the hearing offices can be found here.

  • The Inspector-General of Social Security is warning the public about fraudulent letters threatening suspension of Social Security benefits due to COVID-19-related office closures. Read the fraud advisory.

  • See the Economic Stimulus Section on NYLAG’s webpage for more information and here

Our intake is currently open for disability appeals, Continuing Disability Reviews, age 18 redeterminations, terminations, and suspensions for individuals under age 65 who are financially eligible for our services. If you’re not a NYLAG client and you want help on a Social Security matter, please call 212-613-5024 and leave your name and phone number. You will receive a callback.

If you’re a NYLAG client and have specific questions about your case, contact your NYLAG advocate directly. Please leave a message. We are regularly checking our NYLAG voicemail.

This just in from the Department of Education:

Return to School 2020

As we look ahead to September, we see the big picture: the continuing rise in cases across the country; current guidance from City, State, and Federal health authorities; and the knowledge that as the trajectory of the virus continues to evolve, the guidance we must follow will also evolve. When it does, we have to be ready, and prepared to adapt. We’ve also received over 400,000 responses from families and students to a survey asking about preferences and concerns for the upcoming year, and your input has been critical in our planning.

Taken together, this picture demands we begin the 2020-21 school year in an unprecedented way—including new health protocols, physical distancing, and more. Make no mistake: New York City students will still be learning 5 days a week. A major difference is that we are preparing to deliver their education through a blended learning model. Blended learning means students will be taught on-site in school for part of the week, and will attend school remotely on the other days of the week.

We are ready for this: adapting and strengthening our practices; investing in the technology required to provide a quality online academic experience—including distributing over 300,000 iPads to students who need them; and working with teachers to be more effective online instructors. We will update curriculum to reflect the blended learning online and in-person model, and to ensure the guidelines and curriculum include appropriate social-emotional learning and mental health supports.

Any family can also choose all-remote learning, for any reason.

  • The U.S. Department of Education announced that during the COVID-19 national emergency, borrowers can suspend federal student loan payments for at least 60 days with 0% interest.

If you’re a NYLAG client and have specific questions about your case, contact your NYLAG attorney.

  • New York and Federal tax filing deadlines have both been extended to Wednesday, July 15, 2020.
  • New York State Unemployment Insurance (UI) Benefits are available to workers who have lost work through no fault of their own, including for issues related to the Coronavirus pandemic. These benefits are not available to workers who are employed and able to work remotely, or to those on paid leave.
  • Benefits are available immediately, and New York State is waiving the statutory 7-day waiting period to apply. In addition, the State is continuing to address serious delays in claimants’ ability to get through to the Telephone Claim Center with questions about your claim.
  • The federal CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act significantly expanded on the protections of the NYS UI system, by supplementing an additional $600 to claimants’ weekly UI earnings, and extending benefits by 13 weeks, to 39 weeks. Unfortunately, the $600 supplement expired on July 31, 2020, and has not yet been renewed by Congress. The 13-week extension has now been supplemented by an additional 20-week extension, which runs until December 2020. More information about extended benefits is available here.
  • The CARES Act also created the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, which expands eligibility to many workers typically excluded from regular UI eligibility, including independent contractors, freelancers, and other gig economy workers.
  • The application for traditional UI benefits is the same as for PUA benefits. There is no separate application for PUA.
  • PUA is available to those who have lost their jobs for reasons directly related to the COVID-19 pandemic and may be available to workers who are forced to quit their jobs due to the pandemic. However, it is not advisable to quit your job in order to receive unemployment insurance benefits.
  • Click here for the current Department of Labor (DOL) instructions for filing an unemployment insurance claim online.
  • Immigrants are only eligible for UI where they can provide a valid Social Security number or work authorization.

If you’re an NYLAG client and have specific questions about your case, contact your NYLAG attorney.

  • Student Veterans: Emergency legislation continues GI Bill Benefits for student veterans during the COVID-19 pandemic. For individual questions, veterans can contact the VA Education Call Center at 1-888-442-4551.
  • Overpayments: Until further notice, VA is suspending all actions on veteran debts under the jurisdiction of the Treasury Department and suspending collection action or extending repayment terms on preexisting VA debts, as the veteran prefers. For details on benefit debts contact the VA Debt Management Center at 1-800-827-0648, for details on health care debts contact the Health Resource Center at 1-888-827-4817.
  • Deadlines: Until further notice, veterans have the option to submit paperwork late for the following actions: (1) perfecting claims, (2) challenging adverse decisions, (3) submitting Notices of Disagreement, (4) submitting Substantive Appeals, and (5) responding to Supplemental Statements of the Case. Veterans do not need to proactively request an extension in advance. For more details call 1-800-827-1000 or visit here.
  • Disability Examinations: VA will not deny a claim solely for failure to report for a disability examination at this time. The VA will utilize medical evidence currently in a Veteran’s claims file or medical records, supplemented by a telephone interview if necessary, instead of requiring some veterans to be examined in-person.
  • Other Questions: Additional information Veterans should know about COVID-19 can be found here.

Veterans and their family members can email [email protected] or call our veterans’ intake line at 212.946.0343.

*Last updated August 10, 2020. This is not an exhaustive list and information is changing rapidly. This does not substitute legal advice.

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In response to the COVID-19 crisis, we are still working hard and our intake lines are open, but please note that our physical office is closed.

During these unprecedented times, we’ve launched a free NY COVID-19 Legal Resources Hotline and compiled the latest legal and financial counseling updates.