Older Adults Sue NYC Agency for Unlawfully Cutting Cash Benefits

In June 2013, NCLEJ and the Urban Justice Center filed a class action in the Southern District of New York, Juan v. Doar, 13-cv-4028 (RPP)(AJP), against the New York City Human Resources Administration, Department of Social Services (HRA) on behalf of New Yorkers who are 60 years old or older and receive cash benefits from HRA.

HRA requires certain cash benefits recipients to participate in employment activities through initiatives such as the Wellness, Comprehensive Assessment Rehabilitation and Employment (WeCARE) program, as a condition to their receipt of benefits. Under New York Social Services Law and regulations, cash benefits recipients who are 60 years of age or older are exempt from employment-related requirements under WeCARE and similar initiatives.

The case challenges HRA’s violation of these laws and constitutional due process by scheduling WeCARE and similar appointments for cash assistance recipients who are 60 years of age or older, and then initiating actions to discontinue or reduce their benefits if they fail to keep the appointments. In committing these actions, HRA fails to check the age of recipients, despite having that information readily available in HRA records. It is estimated that thousands of older New Yorkers living in poverty who depend on cash assistance benefits have had or will have benefits reduced or discontinued as a result of HRA’s unlawful policy or practice. A motion to certify the class has also been filed in the case.