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HRA Agrees to Remedy Work Exemption Problems

October 1, 2007

Author: Catherine M. Callery (Kate)| Louise M. Tarantino

Many clients in New York City who have already won their Title II and/or Title XVI cases are still being called in for employability appointments before their SSI is paid.  These clients may have had their Public Assistance cases closed or sanctioned for not attending a WeCARE or other employability appointment while they are waiting for their favorable SSI decision to be processed and paid.  Since it often takes a few months to get a favorable SSI decision actually paid by the Social Security Administration, this problem comes up frequently.

Katie Kelleher of the Law Reform Unit of the Legal Aid Society reports that HRA has agreed to fix the problem.  HRA agrees that individuals found eligible for SSA disability benefits (Title II or Title XVI) should be exempt from work activities.  HRA is developing a procedure to exempt these clients, but until a policy directive is actually issued, advocates should contact the HRA Legal Department and remind them that such clients are supposed to exempt.

Katie recommends writing a letter to the HRA Legal Department to insure that  these cases are resolved so that clients are exempted from work activities, are not sanctioned, or do not have their cases closed for failing to comply with work requirements.

A sample letter is available as DAP# 466.  Simply add your client's details, attach a copy of the favorable SSI/SSD decision, and send to the HRA Legal Department.  If you have received a favorable decision on the record but do not yet have a written decision, send the letter, noting the date of the hearing and attesting that Judge issued a favorable decision on the record.  The letter should be sent to David Lock at HRA Legal: fax number 212 331-4465; phone number 212 331-5146.  David Lock prefers email, with a copy of the favorable decision attached as a pdf file.  Katie recommends also faxing a copy of the letter and decision to have proof that you sent it.

Katie reminds advocates that many sanctions and negative case actions are automatically posted by computer when the computer registers that a client has not appeared for an appointment or submitted a document.  Thus, it is extremely likely that by the time HRA acts on your client’s case to change your client's employability computer code to EXEMPT, there may be negative case actions looming on the case record.  Therefore, any negative case actions that may have been taken against your client must also be corrected.  The sample letter attached includes language asking HRA to correct any negative case actions that may have already been taken against your client.

Katie encourages advocates with questions to contact her at 212-577-3307.  Katie notes that these negotiations with HRA arose in the context of class action litigation brought by the Legal Aid Society and co-counsel Millbank, Tweed Hadley & McCloy against HRA on behalf of clients targeted for HRA's WeCARE employability program. The case - Lovely H. v. Eggleston - alleges that HRA lacks procedures necessary to provide reasonable accommodations to disabled clients needed by them to comply with the conditions of eligibility for public benefits at their local Job Centers.  


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