Labor Seal NYS Department of Labor                          

Contact Leo Rosales Cell: 518-281-6167 Office: 518-457-5519 Email: leo.rosales@labor.ny.gov www.labor.ny.gov
Governor Paterson Spotlights Help for People Struggling in the Southern Tier
Website Lets New Yorkers Check Eligibility, Apply for Aid

Albany, NY (December 23, 2009) - Can't See the video? Click Here to Get Adobe Flash Player. Governor Paterson is dispatching agency leaders across the state to let New Yorkers know about programs and services that can help them better cope with today’s uncertain economy. At an event on Tuesday, December 22 in Binghamton, State officials discussed unemployment in the Southern Tier. They reminded people who struggle to put food on the table to apply for many state programs, including HEAP, food stamp assistance and health insurance for children. At the Governor’s direction, New York has created a website where anyone can quickly and easily check their eligibility for benefits and services: myBenefits.ny.gov.

"During good economic times and especially during rough patches, State government is first and foremost accountable to New York's taxpayers," said Governor Paterson. "There is no doubt that the past year has been a turbulent time. We need remind New Yorkers about the expanded suite of State and federal programs that help working families, to reassure them that State government is committed to improving their lives."

"We recognize that many of those hard-hit by the downturn have never sought help before, and we’re working to make it as easy as possible for those who are eligible to obtain benefits," said Elizabeth Berlin, OTDA Executive Deputy Commissioner. "The myBenefits site allows people to apply for food stamps without having to take time off from work, or from looking for work, to visit the local department of social services to apply. As a result of the numerous steps we’ve taken over the past two years to make it easier for those eligible to access food stamp benefits, New York State has been well-positioned to respond to the increased demand."

"Although some say this brutal recession is ending, too many New Yorkers are still unemployed, struggling to provide food and shelter for themselves and their families," State Labor Commissioner M. Patricia Smith said. "Unemployment benefits can only stretch so far, and we urge anyone in need to take advantage of benefits and services offered through the myBenefits.ny.gov website."

The myBenefits site, launched in May 2008, lets New Yorkers use a simple online prescreening to learn if they can qualify for multiple benefits. The benefits include: food stamps, home energy assistance, Earned Income Tax Credits, child and dependent care credits, Medicaid, Family Health Plus, Child Health Plus and school lunch programs, among others. There are plans to add other program screenings to myBenefits over time. The final goal is to help individuals and families apply for an array of programs by answering one set of simple questions online.

Residents of 27 counties – including Tioga and Tompkins counties – already can apply for food stamps through the site, with the help of some community-based organizations.

Also, residents of 12 other Upstate counties now can use myBenefits to apply directly for food stamps, when they choose, over the Internet. More counties will gain this access soon, including those in the Southern Tier. There are plans to implement it statewide in 2010.

Governor Paterson has made the economic security of New Yorkers an utmost priority. People who face the loss of a job or unemployment benefits, collecting unemployment, or just having a hard time making ends meet, should visit myBenefits.ny.gov to see the help available.

To learn more about the programs New York State offers, visit www.ny.gov/governor and click on the link for "Resources for Working Families."

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