Can a SCRIE beneficiary's frozen rent ever decrease? YES -- following loss of income.

May 30, 2017

 

Alex Ryley

Director, Elderly Project

Clients who are considering applying for SCRIE (a/k/a the Rent Freeze program, as the Dep’t of Finance has renamed it) are sometimes surprised to learn that all the benefit does is stop a senior's rent from going up; it doesn’t result in a decrease in your rent, as, for example, the Section 8 program does. 

HOWEVER, there is one exception to this: the SCRIE Redetermination.

A SCRIE beneficiary can apply for a “Redetermination” if there is a permanent drop in household income of at least 20 percent.  Such a reduction in income usually happens when a member of the household dies or moves out.  But it can also happen when someone (usually the SCRIE beneficiary) loses a job and is unable to find a new one. 

If household income drops because of, say, the death of a spouse, that’s a pretty easy case, and the Redetermination application should sail through.  The potentially tougher cases are ones where the beneficiary has stopped working.  In those cases, the Department of Finance (“DOF”) will require some kind of proof that the reduction in income is permanent.  This could take the form of a doctor’s letter, if the beneficiary is too ill or disabled to continue working.  If the beneficiary has decided to stop working for some other reason, it may be somewhat more difficult to convince the DOF of the income reduction’s permanence. If the application is denied, the applicant can send in an administrative appeal within 60 days of the date of the denial notice.  Sometimes an applicant can receive free assistance with an appeal from one of the several legal services offices in the City.

So please bear the Redetermination application in mind for your SCRIE clients who lose spouses or experience other changes that result in a loss of income.  It’s a very valuable, and definitely underused, benefit of the SCRIE program.  Click here to access the Application for Redetermination form, which you should encourage eligible clients to submit as soon as possible after the loss of household income.