Changes to Burial Claims

Adopted Rules: Closed to Comments

Agency:
Effective Date: 
Monday, August 31, 2020
Download Copy of Adopted Rule (.pdf): 

NOTICE OF ADOPTION OF RULE

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN THAT PURSUANT TO THE AUTHORITY VESTED IN THE COMMISSIONER OF THE NEW YORK CITY HUMAN RESOURCES ADMINISTRATION (“HRA”) by section 141 of the New York Social Services Law and sections 603 and 1043 of the New York City Charter, HRA hereby adopts the following rule adding Chapter 13 to Title 68 of the Official Compilation of the Rules of the City of New York.

A similar rule was issued as an emergency rule on May 2, 2020, and a proposed permanent rule was published on June 23, 2020. A public hearing was held on July 23, 2020. No public comments were received.

Statement of Basis and Purpose of Rule

HRA issues this rule making certain changes to its burial allowance program.
In early May 2020, in order to address the unprecedented impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on New York City and the number of fatalities affecting the City’s most vulnerable and low-income populations in dire need of financial assistance to provide for respectful and solemn final disposition of their loved ones, the Commissioner of the New York City Department of Social Services / Human Resources Administration (DSS/HRA) issued an emergency rule concerning its burial allowance program, which is otherwise governed by State law and Chapter 2 of HRA’s rules.

Currently, State law only provides for partial reimbursement of burial allowances up to $900. In other words, burial allowances of $900 or less are partially reimbursable by the State, but any amounts paid by local social services districts above $900 come entirely out of local funds.
The emergency rule, which will expire on August 31, increased the available burial allowance from $900 to $1700. HRA is now extending the $1700 allowance through December 31, 2020. The City will seek a legislative change that would provide for additional reimbursement from the State. Whether there is a legislative change may affect the amounts that the City determines to be practicable in the future.

Additionally, HRA is making the rest of the provisions of emergency rule permanent. Specifically, the HRA is making permanent the following changes to the burial allowance:
(1) Increase the expense cap from $1,700 to $3,400 and adds the costs charged by a funeral director associated with the disinterment of decedent remains from Hart Island to the items that will not count towards the total expense cap.
(2) Allow for applications to be made by email and other remote means, in addition to in-person.
(3) Change the time within which a friend, relative or organizational friend of the decedent can file an application for a burial allowance, from 60 days from the date of death to 120 days from the date of death.
(4) Allow anyone who may qualify for an allowance for burial expenses to apply for such an allowance either prior to or following burial or cremation and remove the requirement that DSS/HRA must respond to pre-burial or pre-cremation applications within two business days.
(5) Provide that the value of any resources or income that are not liquid or available at the time of the decedent’s death and not available at the time of application will not be deducted from the burial allowance in determining the amount that will be paid. However, DSS/HRA will reserve the right recover against such resource consistent with State law.
(6) With respect to veteran burials in particular, remove the prohibition on providing burial expenses pursuant to Section 2-09 of Title 68 for the burial of veterans in private cemeteries other than Calverton Cemetery.
DSS/HRA’s authority for this rule may be found in section 141 of the New York Social Services Law and sections 603 and 1043 of the New York City Charter.

New text is underlined.

Deleted text is [bracketed].

Section one. Title 68 of the Rules of the City of New York is amended by adding a new chapter 13 to read as follows:

Chapter 13: Changes to Burial Claims

13-01. Changes to Burial Claims Generally

Notwithstanding any provision of chapter 2 of this title to the contrary, the following provisions shall apply all applications for an HRA burial allowance:

(a) Notwithstanding the provisions of chapter 2 of these rules, the allowance provided for in section 13-02 of this chapter, or in Chapter 2, as applicable, shall not be available where the total burial expenses, as defined in section 2-02 of this title, exceed $3,400. In determining whether such $3,400 cap has been exceeded, the following costs will be disregarded:
(1) the cost of cremation or the burial plot and grave opening; and
(2) any costs charged by a funeral director that are related to the disinterment of a body that was buried on or after March 12, 2020 on Hart Island.

(b) The time within which any person may submit an application for a burial allowance is increased from sixty (60) days to one hundred and twenty (120) days from the date of death.

(c) Anyone who is eligible for an allowance for burial expenses or under this section or under Chapter 2, as applicable, may apply for such expenses either prior to or after burial or cremation. The requirement in section 2-09(d) of this title that DSS/HRA must decide any applications made prior to burial or cremation within two business days is suspended. However, DSS/HRA will make decisions on all applications within a reasonable time.

(d) Applications under this section or under Chapter 2, as applicable, need not be made in person and may be made online, by email, by fax and by any other remote means as DSS/HRA may designate.

(e) In determining the amount of the allowance, the value of any resources or income that are not liquid or available at the time of the decedent’s death and not available at the time of application shall not be deducted. However, DSS/HRA reserves the right to recover against any such resources consistent with State law.

(f) The provisions of section 2-09(b)(ii) of this title, prohibiting an allowance for veteran burials that occur in private cemeteries other than Calverton Cemetery, are suspended.

13-02. Temporary Increase in Burial Allowance
Notwithstanding any provision of chapter 2 of this title to the contrary, for applications submitted on or before December 31, 2020, the allowance for burial expenses described in chapter 2 that are payable by DSS/HRA is $1,700. This allowance can be used towards burial expenses, as defined in chapter 2, including the costs set forth in paragraphs (1) and (2) of subdivision (a) of section 13-01 of this chapter that are disregarded in determining the cap set forth in such subdivision.