Queens, NY – Assemblywoman Nily Rozic (D,WF-Fresh Meadows) announced upcoming changes that were included in this year’s state budget to two programs Queens’ seniors rely on. Starting in July, income eligibility will be raised for both EPIC and SCRIE programs.
Seniors will see an increase in the income eligibility limit for Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage (EPIC) to $75,000 for individuals and $100,000 for couples. In addition, the annual income eligibility for the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE) program, that subsidizes rent for tens of thousands of seniors, will increase to $50,000.
“The expansion of eligibility for the EPIC and SCRIE programs will have a significant impact in our community,” said Assemblywoman Nily Rozic. “We need to do more to bring much-needed relief to seniors who are struggling with rising housing and health costs. I am proud to have passed a budget that included an expansion of these programs and will continue to work for more senior services.”
City Councilmember Paul Vallone stated: “For many seniors, particularly those living on a fixed income, SCRIE and EPIC are programs that they depend on to maintain their quality of life. I applaud the New York State Legislature for increasing the maximum income threshold and funding these two critical programs, which will allow access to a much larger population of seniors than ever before.”
EPIC currently assists more than 270,000 income-eligible seniors age 65 and older supplement their out of pocket Medicare Part D drug plan costs. Currently, the eligibility requirements for EPIC are capped at $35,000 for an individual and $50,000 for a married couple. It would also exclude social security income from income calculations. EPIC helps lower high prescription drug costs for seniors.
SCRIE freezes the rent of seniors over the age of 62 living in rent-regulated housing whose rent is more than a third of their income. The new provisions would enable the City of New York to provide SCRIE assistance for more seniors. Currently, seniors earning more than $29,000 are ineligible.
While the City currently pays the full cost of SCRIE, the State will now pay the cost of any newly eligible participants with incomes between $29,000 and $50,000. The changes would have to be adopted by the City Council in order to take effect. They would be due to be renewed by the State Legislature in 2016.