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New York. Governor Hochul Announces New, Streamlined Application for Individuals Seeking Help From the State With Crime-related Expenses

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced the availability of a new, streamlined application for individuals seeking help from the state with crime-related expenses. The New York State Office of Victim Services has revamped its application to eliminate questions, simplify language and reduce its length to help ensure a more user-friendly process. OVS provides a critical financial safety net for individuals with no other resources to pay for expenses they incurred as a result of being victimized, such as medical and counseling bills, funeral and burial costs, and reimbursement of lost wages, among other financial assistance.

“New York has a long history of ensuring that individuals and families who have been harmed as a result of a crime can have access to support, services and financial help they need,” Governor Hochul said. “That commitment would not be possible but for the work done by the Office of Victim Services’ staff, and victim assistance professionals who have dedicated their careers to serving individuals who have experienced unspeakable loss, trauma and pain. I am incredibly grateful for their work, which makes a difference in so many lives across New York State.”

“Those who are victims of a crime shouldn’t have to worry about the financial cost of the recovery process,” said Lieutenant Governor Antonio Delgado. “The Office of Victim Services is breaking down barriers and ensuring those impacted by crime have access to the resources and services they need to heal and move forward. We will ensure New Yorkers receive the support they deserve.”

Office of Victim Services Director Elizabeth Cronin said, “My team at the Office of Victim Services is always looking for ways in which we can streamline and improve our processes, so they are victim- and survivor-centered, and trauma informed. We received excellent feedback from victim advocates and service providers who play a critical role in helping individuals apply for assistance and this shortened application is a result of the coordination between them and OVS staff. I thank them for their insights and their commitment to providing the highest quality of services to victims and survivors of crime.”

While the Office of Victim Services has modified its application as necessary to address amendments to state laws that outline eligibility for financial assistance, these represent the most significant changes to the document in decades. Individuals, service providers and victim advocates had expressed concerns about the document’s length and some invasive questions, which sometimes deterred individuals from applying for help. The redesigned application provides the information necessary for the Office of Victim Services to assign claims to staff members, who then obtain any additional documents to make decisions as needed, depending on the type of help sought. The application now has five pages instead of nine, and the number of questions has been cut in half to seven from 14.

During the state’s 2022-23 fiscal year, the Office of Victim Services provided $14.6 million to victims and survivors of crime and their family members for medical and counseling bills; occupational and vocational rehabilitation; lost wages and support; funeral and burial expenses; costs associated with court and medical transportation, security devices, moving, and crime scene cleanup; and replacement or repair of essential personal property. New York is the only state in the country with no cap on medical and counseling expenses; state law limits other types of reimbursement or compensation. OVS also directly reimbursed medical providers nearly $2 million for forensic rape exams during FY23. All reimbursement and compensation for crime-related costs are paid by fines, fees and surcharges paid by certain individuals convicted in state or federal court, not federal or state tax dollars.

Earlier this month, Governor Hochul signed legislation (S.214A/A.2105A) to expand eligibility to victim compensation funds for victims and survivors of crime. The law removes the requirement that victims provide documentation from law enforcement to be eligible for compensation and applies to crimes occurring on or after Dec. 31, 2025. The effective date provides the Office of Victim Services adequate time to prepare for the implementation of this and other significant changes included in the law.

The updated compensation application is another example of the Office of Victim Services’ efforts to improve access, expand eligibility for financial assistance and build capacity among services providers through professional training and technical assistanceIn recent years, OVS has:

The Office of Victim Services also funds and supports 239 community-based programs across the state that provide essential services, such as crisis counseling, support groups, case management, emergency shelter, civil legal help, and relocation assistance, among other assistance, to victims and survivors, loved ones, and communities. These programs provide services at no cost and regardless of whether an individual has reported the crime to police. More than 80 percent of claims for financial help are filed by staff from these programs. Follow the Office of Victim Services on X (formerly Twitter) and Facebook.

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SOURCE: governor.ny.gov/newsMidtown Tribune news

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