MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF A.6615
Westchester Independent Living Center is submitting this memorandum of su pport in favor of Assembly bill A.6615. The bill would remove the burden fro m low income persons with disabilities from having to present a SSDI award letter fr om the Social Security Administration before receiving property tax relief.
The relevant portion of the statutory language of Assembly bill A.6615 is instructive.
“If such person is unable to obtain such certification due to a lack of sufficient work credits to qualify for SSDI benefits, a denial or disapproval letter or notice of disapproval claim or notice of disapproved claim from the Social Security Administration (SSA) together with a medical certification of the individual’s qualifying disability prepared by a duly licensed physician shall be deemed sufficient in lieu of an SSA certification…If a person is unable to obtain an award letter from the Social Security Administration due to sufficient work credits to qualify for SSDI, a denial or disapproval letter or notice of disapproved claim from the Social Security Administration together with a medical certification of the individual’s qualifying disability prepared by a duly licensed physician shall be deemed sufficient in lieu of an award letter from the Social Security Administration.”
Many individuals with very serious disabilities have an insufficient work history in order to qualify for SSDI. Those persons are most vulnerable and in need of extra financial support. The Social Security Administration requires individuals to satisfy the statutory law as to work credits. In order for applicants to be approved for SSDI the applicant must have worked within the last ten years and have attained 20 quarters of work. One Quarter is equal to $1,220 in income. To be clear we are talking about applicants that have a serious enough medical illness or condition to qualify for SSDI. Yet they may have a work history that is sporadic. Many persons with disabilities labor under the burdens of an illness or condition that make it impossible for them to work enough hours to meet the regulation as to work credits. Upon a finding that an applicant for SSDI does not have sufficient work credits, the applicant would not be approved for SSDI at that point. After accruing a sufficient work history the applicant would have to re-apply for SSDI and be found to be disabled at that point.
Persons with disabilities receiving SSDI are eligible to receive the Real Property Tax Exemption for persons with disabilities and limited income. An award letter from Social Security entitles the individual with a disability to receive the Real Property Tax Exemption under current law. Assembly bill # A.6615 would extend the Real Property Tax Exemption to persons with documented disabilities upon presenting a denial of SSDI benefits for lack of work credits along with a Physicians certification of disability. As to this bill, to ensure that fraud will not occur when the Doctor certifies that the applicant for tax relief is disabled under SSA standards, the Doctor can submit a sworn affidavit or certification that the applicant is disabled. I don’t think that any Doctor would risk losing their license for the sake of Property Tax relief for a patient.
It is patently unfair in my opinion that those individuals who lack a steady work history because of a serious disability be precluded from this much needed tax relief because of a lack of work credits. Many persons with serious disabilities who are not receiving SSDI benefits are living at or near the poverty level. The spirit of the law mandating tax relief for persons with disabilities who have low income should be inclusive. It just doesn’t make any sense to me to exclude some of the most marginalized members of our society, those with very limited income and not receiving benefits to be denied this tax relief