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Legal Services Journal - Summer 2011


Articles in this Issue

Marriage Equality: A Historic Victory for LGBT Families in New York
August 18, 2011
On June 24, 2011, New York became the sixth state to legalize same-sex marriage. Governor Cuomo immediately signed this historic legislation into law just shy of midnight making the new law effective on Sunday July 24. Read More

2011 Domestic Violence Legislative Update
August 18, 2011
Described below are the new domestic violence-specific laws, as well as the bills which successfully navigated both houses of the Legislature and are awaiting further action. This update is current through July 20, 2011. The Empire Justice website posts legislative updates throughout the summer as needed. Read More

Legislative Session Leaves Much to Be Done, With One Grand Exception
August 17, 2011
After the 2011-12 state budget passed - on time - Empire Justice Center’s policy team immediately shifted gears to focus on our other legislative priorities and to respond to a number of bills that unexpectedly demanded our attention. Read More

Kinship Guardianship Assistance Program
A New Option for Children in Foster Care with Kin
August 18, 2011
The Kinship Guardianship Assistance Program (KinGAP) is designed to provide a new permanency option for children in foster care who have been cared for by a relative for six continuous months and for whom it has been determined that returning home or adoption are not viable options. Read More

State Budget Cuts to Child Care Threaten Well Being of Children in Low-Income Working Families
August 18, 2011
This year as part of the New York State budget, the legislature cut $42 million dollars from the New York State Child Care Block Grant (NYSCCBG). As a result, many low-income working families are at risk of losing child care assistance. Read More

OCFS Issues Guidance on Adoption Study Criteria Related to Sexual Orientation and Length of Marriage
August 18, 2011
The Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) recently issued an informational letter (INF) clarifying, among other things, that discrimination against prospective adoptive parents based on sexual orientation is strictly prohibited and not a legitimate basis for denying an application. Read More

Pro Se Litigants with Disabilities in Family Court
A Proposal for Procedural and Substantive Legal Assistance
August 18, 2011
Low-income parents with mental disabilities who must litigate in New York State Family Court face enormous procedural and substantive legal obstacles. In matters involving child support in particular, the majority appear without any legal assistance and have little chance of successfully resolving their disputes, to their own detriment as well as that of their families and the courts themselves. The complexities of navigating the family court system are daunting for all pro se parties, but approach impossibility for individuals with mental disabilities. Read More

Dickerson v. Thompson
The Fight to Dissolve Civil Unions in New York
August 17, 2011
Beginning in 2000, Vermont became the first state in the country to offer civil unions. Like many other states, Vermont imposed no residency requirement on celebrants. As a result, many non-Vermonters traveled there to gain access to what was, at the time, the most significant, state-sanctioned legal relationship status granting comprehensive rights and benefits to gay and lesbian couples. Read More

Tips for Searching the OTDA Website When You Do NOT Want To Find a Fair Hearing
August 18, 2011
Tips For Searching the OTDA Website when you do not want to find a Fair Hearing - (With a tip of the hat to Gene Doyle of POOR, and Adam Shoop of The CUNY Law School Economic Justice Project) Read More

Fair Hearing Update
August 18, 2011
The last year has seen a number of technological changes in the world of fair hearing advocacy. This article discusses the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) Fair Hearing Archive with particular attention to its benefits and challenges; the Fair Hearing Evidence Management System (FHEMS) and the Electronic Evidence Packet System (EEPS) which are currently being piloted in New York City; and the likely use of videoconferencing of fair hearings in the future. Read More

Food Stamp Mythbusters: Employment and Training Requirements
August 18, 2011
Test your knowledge – take the food stamp mythbusters quiz! Read More

Application Delay Lawsuit Ends Long Lines and Processing Delays in Utica
August 17, 2011
In January of this year, the Empire Justice Center and Legal Services of Central New York filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of those who had applied or attempted to apply for public assistance, food stamps and Medicaid in Oneida County against the Oneida County Department of Social Services (OCDSS). Read More

DOMA Still Governs at SSA
March 21, 2011
On February 23, 2010, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Justice Department will no longer defend the constitutionality of Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines marriage for federal purposes as only between a man and a woman. Read More

Your Legal Rights as an Applicant for Public Benefits
August 17, 2011
Your legal rights as an applicant for cash assistance, food stamps and Medicaid Read More

Standing to Sue in Foreclosure Cases
New York's Opportunity to Address the Problem
August 18, 2011
The boom and bust of the housing bubble of the last decade has had a devastating effect on consumers throughout New York State. Predatory lending practices were the catalyst, though today, more homeowners are defaulting in New York as the result of loss of employment and income, a by-product of the financial meltdown following the collapse of the subprime markets. Read More

USDA Issues New Guidance on Immigrant Eligibility for Food Stamp Benefits
August 18, 2011
In June, the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued updated guidance on the eligibility of immigrants for food stamp benefits1 in order “…to assist people in understanding current eligibility requirements.” Read More

Clients Lose Access to 24-Hour Home Care Following State Budget Rate Reduction
August 18, 2011
It comes as no surprise – when New York slashes reimbursement rates to providers, our clients have difficulty accessing care. One recent and dramatic example is the sudden reductions in home health aide services in the New York City area following the April 1, 2011 effective date for the Budget’s “expenditure caps” on payments to Certified Home Health Agencies (CHHAs). Read More

New York Dramatically Expands Mandatory Managed Care for Medicaid Beneficiaries
August 18, 2011
This article provides some general background on the budget’s changes to Medicaid, and then focuses on the largest scale change – the expansion in mandatory managed care for Medicaid beneficiaries. Read More

Prescription Drug Benefit Included in Medicaid Managed Care
August 18, 2011
Fact sheet outlining the changes to Medicaid Managed Care. Read More

Bumpy Ride Ahead for EPIC Seniors
August 18, 2011
One of the vital safety net programs that underwent major changes in this year’s Executive Budget process is EPIC (Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage program), New York’s prescription drug benefit for adults age 65 and older. Read More

Blanket Limits on Medicaid Services
August 18, 2011
This year’s budget brought significant and wide-ranging changes to the state’s Medicaid program. Not only have we seen an unprecedented expansion of Medicaid Managed Care and a dramatic alteration in the way services are provided, but the legislature also enacted significant cuts in the services themselves. Read More