Assemblyman WAYNE P. DEANGELO
District 14 (Mercer and Middlesex)
Assemblyman ERIC HOUGHTALING
District 11 (Monmouth)
Assemblyman HAROLD "HAL" J. WIRTHS
District 24 (Morris, Sussex and Warren)
Requires DCA to verify that low-income home energy assistance benefits are not awarded to deceased individuals.
CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT
An Act requiring vital statistics review for low-income home energy assistance benefits and supplementing chapter 27D of Title 52 of the Revised Statutes.
Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:
1. a. The Department of Community Affairs shall verify that an applicant for benefits under the federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, established by 42 U.S.C. s.8621 et seq., is not deceased both prior to awarding the applicant benefits under that program and periodically after an applicant has been approved to receive those benefits, using appropriate data supplied by the State Registrar of Vital Statistics in the Department of Health.
b. The Commissioner of Community Affairs, in consultation with the State Registrar of Vital Statistics, shall promulgate rules and regulations, pursuant to the "Administrative Procedure Act," P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1 et seq.), in order to effectuate the provisions of this section.
2. This act shall take effect on the first day of the third month next following enactment, except the commissioner may take any anticipatory administrative action in advance as shall be necessary for the implementation of this act.
This bill would require the Department of Community Affairs (DCA) to verify that an applicant is not deceased prior to awarding the applicant Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) benefits, and on a periodic basis after awarding these benefits. The bill requires DCA to cross-check applicants with vital statistics data held by the State Registrar of Vital Statistics in the Department of Health before and after awarding LIHEAP benefits.
LIHEAP is a federally funded program that allows the State to provide assistance to help low-income residents cover home energy costs. On October 12, 2016, the Office of the State Comptroller released an investigative report on LIHEAP titled “Administration of New Jersey’s Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.” According to the report, DCA’s failure to cross-check applicants with death records may lead to the inappropriate award of benefits. This bill establishes in law the State Comptroller’s recommendation that DCA conduct adequate vital statistics cross-checks to ensure that LIHEAP benefits are not awarded to deceased individuals.