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Rozic, Vallone Praise Changes In Senior Programs

Assemblymember Nily Rozic reports that “two programs Queens seniors rely on” were amended and included in the recently approved state budget, making more seniors eligible for benefits. Councilmember Paul Vallone also joined in the praises.

The two programs are EPIC (the Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage) plan, and SCRIE (Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption). When the changes kick in in July, income eligibility will be raised for both programs.

Rozic said eligibility income for EPIC will rise to $75,000 for individuals and $100,000 for couples; presently the income eligibility for EPIC is $35,000 (individuals) and $50,000 for a married couple. The changes would enable seniors with higher incomes to qualify for benefits. In addition, the amendment provides that Social Security income would be excluded from income calculations. EPIC helps lower prescription drug costs for those in the program.

For the SCRIE program, which subsidizes rents for “tens of thousands” of seniors, income eligibility will increase to $50,000 from the present $29,000. SCRIE currently freezes the rent of seniors over 62 living in rent-regulated housing whose rent is more than a third of their income.

Rozic (D/WF-Fresh Meadows) said, “The expansion of eligibility for the EPIC and SCRIE programs will have a significant impact in our communities. We need to do more to bring much-needed relief to seniors who are struggling with rising housing and health costs.”

Vallone (D–Bayside), who is chairman of a City Council subcommittee which deals with senior citizen issues, declared, “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.”

Rozic noted that, “While [New York 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.

See full article at Queens Gazette.