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Fair Hearing of the Month

Fair Hearing #7354144N (December 12, 2016)

June 1, 2017

Congratulations to Robin Sparks, Nassau/Suffolk Law Services!

Joint account held by representative payee is not a resource.

he Agency discontinued the Appellant's Public Assistance on the grounds that the Appellant's Public Assistance household had non-exempt resources with an equity value in excess of $2,000.  The primary resource at issue is a joint bank account, which is in the names of the Appellant's disabled son and the Appellant as the Representative Payee.  The Agency had initially determined that the Appellant's household's non-exempt excess resources for the purposes of computing Public Assistance eligibility was $3,105.68, but amended this finding to $2,096.68 by dividing the amount of money in the joint bank account in half.

The Agency’s position is that it correctly computed the Appellant's available resources in determining their Public Assistance eligibility.  The Agency's representative noted it had amended its initial determination by prorating the Appellant’s share against the total assessed value of the account at the time of the determination and also subtracting the sum of one month's SSI benefit.  At the hearing the Appellant’s attorney countered that, even assuming for the purposes of argument that the Agency could legitimately consider the Representative Payee account, which is strictly for the benefit of the disabled son, a joint account, the presumption that half the funds in a joint account belonged to an applicant/recipient is rebuttable and the Appellant in this instance successfully rebutted that presumption.  Counsel further elaborated that the Appellant, who themselves is intellectually challenged, was doing her best to maintain the accounts and pay her individual bills and those of her disabled son, and also pay the bills they are jointly responsible for.

The contentions of the Appellant's attorney are valid.  The Agency had no legal basis to utilize the Representative Payee account funds in determining the value of the Appellant's resources in this matter.  The Agency's determination that the Appellant's household was ineligible for Public Assistance because it owned non-exempt resources with an equity value in excess of $2,000 is not correct and is reversed.


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