Agencies Spotlight Help for People Struggling Across the State
Website Lets New Yorkers Check Eligibility, Apply for Aid
Albany, NY (February 18, 2010) - Can't See the video? Click Here to Get Adobe Flash Player. The State Department of Labor and the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) today reminded New Yorkers about programs and services that can help them cope with the economy. The agencies also prompted people who struggle to put food on the table to apply for state programs, including home energy assistance, food stamp assistance and health insurance for children. At Governor David A. Paterson's direction, New York has created a web site where you can quickly and easily see if you qualify for benefits and services: myBenefits.ny.gov.
This web site is extremely important because there is a deadline for the two-month extension to file for Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) passed by Congress last December. It expires February 28.
If Congress passes no further extensions this year, 575,000 unemployed New Yorkers will be negatively impacted in 2010. They will not collect extended benefits at all or move from one tier of extended benefits to the next.
The Labor Department estimates that a 3-month extension alone would provide approximately $1.4 billion more in federally funded benefits to 500,000 New Yorkers in need.
"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. In light of the fact that thousands of New Yorkers may have their unemployment insurance benefits expire, we need remind them 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."
"There's nothing more frightening to New York's families than the thought of too many bills and not enough money to pay them," said Acting State Labor Commissioner Colleen C. Gardner. "Right now, thousands of New Yorkers are making the hard choice between gas and food, or the heating bill and the electric bill. These same New Yorkers need to know that we offer resources that they can tap into today. I urge people to visit their nearest One-Stop Career Center and check out the myBenefits web site."
"The myBenefits website has proven to be a vital point of access to economic supports for struggling New York families during this downturn, serving as a single site for families and community partners to connect with benefits and services," said Elizabeth Berlin, Executive Deputy Commissioner of the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance. "We're continuing to make it easier for those eligible to obtain benefits without having to take time off from work, or from looking for work, to visit their local department of social services to apply."
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:
The State plans to add other program screenings to myBenefits. The goal is to help people apply for many programs by answering one set of simple questions online.
Residents of more than two dozen counties can already submit a food stamp application through the web site with the help of designated community organizations. Also, residents of 16 counties can use myBenefits to apply directly for food stamps from any computer with Internet access around the clock.