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Empire Justice Comments on repealing 18 NYCRR 352.31(b)

July 3, 2002

 

Ronald Speier
Office of Legal Affairs
Office of Temporary and
Disability Assistance
40 North Pearl Street
16th Floor
Albany, NY 12243

Re: 18 NYCRR 352.31(b)

Dear Mr. Speier:

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the proposed repeal of 18 NYCRR 352.31(b). That regulation provides that when a non-legally responsible relative claims a dependant as a tax deduction, the tax statement is evidence that the caregiver is contributing 51% of the dependent's support. The local social services district then assumes the availability of income from the grandparent to support the child in an amount equal to 51% of the child’s Family Assistance budget. See PA Sourcebook XVI-H.  This policy has worked a severe hardship to many low income relative caregivers, because budgeting that income against the child’s needs allows the social services district to cut the child's welfare grant in half. Although the language of the regulation allowed the caregiver to prove non-support, in fact that rarely happened.

The more likely scenario was that even when the grandparents were able to show that they were providing things not covered by the basic welfare grant such as child care, school costs or special needs, the child’s public assistance grant was reduced. See fh # 2565638Q (10/18/96), fh# 2613524Z (3/14/97).1 Some grandparents were even charged with public assistance overpayments as a result of having claimed their grandchildren as dependents, and were required to pay back the social services district.

Working, low income grandparents often incur many costs that are not covered by the public assistance grant, including day care. This is because when the grandparent does not receive Family Assistance, the child is not guaranteed a child care subsidy.

The regulation as it exists is inconsistent with State law and Department policy which otherwise does not count the income of non-legally responsible relatives towards others in the household. However, relatives who refuse to supply their tax returns to the welfare office receive no public assistance for their grandchildren. See fh# 2492279Q (9/23/96).

The Greater Upstate Law Project strongly supports this regulatory change which will assist non-legally responsible relatives with limited means who wish to care for relatives under the age of 18 when their parents are unable to do so.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on this proposed change.

For more information, please contact:


Susan C. Antos

Empire Justice Center
119 Washington Avenue
Albany, NY  12210 


(518) 462-6831
(518) 935-2852
santos@empirejustice.org