Attorney General offers federal shutdown workers debt relief

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NEW YORK – Attorney General Letitia James announced in a Feb. 4 press release that there is a debt relief program for workers and families in New York who were impacted by the shutdown of the federal government.

During the course of the shutdown, countless New Yorkers were impacted directly or indirectly, forcing them to forgo income and business.

Even though the shutdown is over, the pain felt by those impacted continues.

In an effort to support these workers and families and ease their financial burdens, the Attorney General's Office is offering temporary debt relief on certain debt for those furloughed federal employees, contractors, and their families.

The relief will apply from Dec. 22, 2018 to April 25, 2019, in order to provide those eligible with debt relief from the day the federal shutdown began to 90 days after the end of the shutdown on Jan. 25.

“Too many New Yorkers were innocent victims of the federal shutdown -- forced to live without income and forfeit business crucial to their livelihood,” said Attorney General Letitia James. “Offering debt relief to thousands of workers impacted by the shutdown will allow them to get back on their feet without added financial burdens or the fear of penalization. Government is entrusted with protecting its citizens and I am committed to supporting these workers who were unfairly punished.”

The Attorney General’s Office recovers certain debts referred by New York State agencies.

This debt relief program will only apply to individuals who have debt that has been referred to the Attorney General’s Office and who were impacted by the shutdown.

In addition to federal employees who were furloughed during this time, this relief will also be extended to certain businesses and other workers who lost business or income as a result of the shutdown.

Eligible debt holders are debt holders with accounts that have been referred to the Attorney General’s Office for collection and litigation including, but not limited to, the following:

• Students that owe student debt due to SUNY;

• Patients that owe medical debt due to the five state hospitals and the five state veterans home;

• Individual debtors, sole-proprietors, small business owners, and certain homeowners that owe debt relating to oil spill cleanup and removal costs;

• Individual debtors, sole-proprietors, and small business owners that owe other debts to state entities such as debts relating to property damage, breach of contract, and fees due state agencies.

Furloughed federal employees, third party vendors, contactors and other impacted parties, and their spouses, domestic partners and legal dependents may be eligible for this program.

Individuals who fit this criteria and are seeking this potential relief should visit the website of the Civil Recoveries Bureau of the Attorney General’s Office to access a Federal Shutdown Debt Relief Application.

Individuals can also call the Attorney General’s Office hotline at 1-800-771-7755.

Debt Relief Applications will be accepted until May 28, 2019. Hardship applications may be accepted after that date at the sole discretion of the Attorney General’s Office.

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