April 29, 2022

The 2021-2022 Regular HEAP benefit closes on April 29, 2022. The Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) helps low-income people pay the cost of heating their homes.
If you are eligible, you may receive one regular HEAP benefit per program year and could also be eligible for emergency HEAP benefits if you are in danger of running out of fuel or having your utility service shut off.

HEAP may be able to help you if you heat your home with:

  • Electricity
  • Natural Gas
  • Oil
  • Coal
  • Propane
  • Wood/Wood Pellets
  • Kerosene
  • Corn

Questions regarding the HEAP program should be directed to your HEAP Local District Contact.

Nassau Suffolk Law Services has several units dedicated to helping residents apply for Managed Long Term Care, appeal Medicaid denials, and set up Supplemental Needs Trusts to eliminate the Medicaid spend-down including our Public Benefits Unit, Mental Health Law Project, Nassau Senior Citizens Law Project, Adult Care Facility Project, ICAN, and HIV/AIDS Project. Suffolk residents can call 631-232-2400. Nassau residents can call 516-292-8100.

Beginning July 1, 2022, the credit bureaus will remove medical debt that has been paid off. Additionally, starting July 1, 2022, the grace period before reporting medical debt collection will increase to one year (previously 6 months). Lastly, in the first half of 2023, they will also remove unpaid medical debt of less than $500. As a result, it is expected that the majority of medical debts will be removed from credit reports.

Nassau Suffolk Law Services provides legal representation and advice to eligible Nassau and Suffolk residents experiencing consumer debt problems (like student loans), especially in the matters of medical and credit card debt. Suffolk residents can call 631-232-2400. Nassau residents can call 516-292-8100.

Equitable relief is available for people who, from January 1, 2022 onward, missed enrollment in Medicare because of SSA telephone issues. Because the Social Security Administration (SSA) national 800 number and field offices both had—and continue to have—technical difficulties with their phone and fax systems since the start of the calendar year, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is providing equitable relief to anyone who was unable to enroll in Medicare because of problems getting through to SSA. The equitable relief runs through December 31, 2022, and applies to anyone who could not enroll (or disenroll) in Part B or in premium Part A during a period of enrollment eligibility because of problems with phone or fax communication with SSA. Although this equitable relief will primarily affect people who missed the January 1 - March 31 General Enrollment Period (GEP), it also applies to individuals who missed an Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) that encompasses dates on or after January 1, 2022, as well as individuals who were unable to make changes based on the employment-related Special Enrollment Period (SEP). 
Individuals seeking equitable relief can contact either the national SSA phone number, 1-800-772-1213, or their local SSA office. Equitable relief will be granted on a case-by-case basis. From a review of the guidance (EM-22020) to SSA offices, it appears that the following requirements will apply:
  • The individual must have been in an enrollment period on or after January 1, 2022. Since everyone eligible for Medicare has an enrollment period from January 1 through March 31, this requirement will be met by anyone missing an enrollment in the January-March timeframe. Advocates should be aware that, because the guidance notes that the technical problems are ongoing, it may be possible to seek equitable relief for individuals who miss a deadline after March 31 if they encounter phone or fax problems that cause them to miss their enrollment window. 

  • The individual must assert that they attempted to reach SSA by phone or attempted to fax information and encountered difficulties, e.g., couldn’t get through, the call got dropped or cut off, etc., and they were unable to timely enroll or disenroll. Although it would be helpful if the individual had notes on the dates or number of times they called, it does not appear that SSA will require that kind of specificity if the individual does not have it available. The instructions to SSA staff state: We encourage technicians to be as responsive and flexible as possible when a current or new beneficiary affected by telephonic technical issues contacts us for any missed enrollment opportunity due to being impacted by SSA’s telephonic technical issues. Advocates should encourage individuals who missed a deadline to seek equitable relief even if they cannot recollect details about the calls they made. Note also that, although online application processes have been available, the guidance does not require individuals to justify why they did not or could not use online enrollment options. It is enough for the individual to have tried phone access and been unsuccessful. 

Note that normal rules apply with respect to the effective date of an enrollment. Thus, if an individual obtains equitable relief for a missed GEP enrollment, the first day of coverage will be no earlier than July 1, 2022, which would have been the first day if the individual had timely enrolled. Additional details are available in the guidance. 

Medicaid recipients be on alert! The Public Health Emergency has been extended until July 13, 2022. One of the many moratoriums in place during the Covid-19 pandemic has been the moratorium on banning case closings and reductions of coverage for Medicaid recipients. Now that the PHE has been extended, the continuous enrollment requirement would end on July 31, 2022 with the first disenrollments effective August 1, 2022. The most recent guidance of CMS clarified that states may initiate the first batch of renewals the month before the PHE ends. This means states could begin processing renewals as of June 1, 2022. States are required to conduct a full renewal, according to regulation, for everyone based on current circumstances before disenrolling anyone.

Nassau Suffolk Law Services Public Benefits Unit provides legal assistance to persons who experience problems with public benefits programs which are administered by the local Departments of Social Services, including: Welfare (TANF and Safety Net); Medicaid; Food Stamps (SNAP); Child Care Assistance; HEAP; Emergency shelter for the homeless; and other emergency assistance programs. We also assist low-income households in establishing Supplemental Needs Trusts to eliminate the Medicaid spend-down and assist homeless families to obtain rent supplements from DSS to enable families to leave the shelters or retain permanent housing. Suffolk residents can call 631-232-2400. Nassau residents can call 516-292-8100.
Have you seen our new website? Check it out at www.nslawservices.org. As always, we have resources on a variety of legal topics including previous legal lessons and LSCA trainings. Please continue to check back over the next few months as we will be providing new downloadable fact sheets in both English and Spanish.

Did you miss out on our "Post Moratorium Foreclosure Options" or "Accessing Healthcare and Preventing Medical Debt" LSCA Trainings? Feel free to email scampo@nsls.legal to request a copy of presentation and corresponding handouts. More presentations will be added to the calendar soon.
If your organization is interested in having Nassau Suffolk Law Services present on what services we provide or a specific area of law, please contact the Legal Support Center for Advocates at 631-232-2400 extension 3324 (advocates only).
The Community Legal Help Project
Brentwood Public Library: Tuesdays 2-5pm
Middle Country Public Library, Selden Building: Thursdays 3-6pm
For more information, please see our flyer.
Are you looking to give back to the community while also getting paid? We would love to have you apply for our currently open attorney, paralegal and volunteer intern positions. To find out more, go to our website.

  • Volunteer attorneys needed to assist pro bono clients with direct client representation in family, bankruptcy, matrimonial, and elder law
  • Providing half hour legal consultations with our Suffolk County library project in matrimonial, family, immigration, consumer, landlord/tenant, and more

  • Law Student/Paralegal/Pre-law undergraduate internships
  • Assist Law Services Staff with intake, case analysis, case referral, and recruitment of volunteer attorneys
  • Nassau County Volunteer Landlord/Tenant Attorney for a Day
Interested in Joining Us?

Nassau County- (516) 292-8100
Suffolk County- (631) 232-2400
Email- scampo@nsls.legal

Looking forward to your help!

631 232-2400 | 516 292-8100 | 631 369-1112

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