Custodial parents who now receive temporary assistance or who received it in the past may be entitled to a desk review.
If you did not receive a child support pass-through payment or excess support payment that you believe you should have received, or you believe you received the wrong amount, you can request a desk review. To request a desk review, you must complete the Request for a First-Level Desk Review of the Distribution and Disbursement of Child Support Collections form and mail it to the local district office where your child support account is managed. If you are not sure where to mail the form, please call the NYS Child Support Helpline toll-free at 1-888-208-4485 (TTY: 1-866-875-9975), Monday–Friday, 8:00 AM–7:00 PM. Desk review request forms and instructions are also available through the NYS Child Support Helpline and at local district offices.
Temporary Assistance and Child Support
When you apply for or receive temporary assistance, you assign any rights to receive support owed to you on your own behalf or on behalf of anyone else for whom you are applying, or receiving, assistance. That means that the social services district will keep any child support collections received on behalf of you or your family while you are on assistance. The social services district will use that money to reimburse the temporary assistance paid to you or your family.
However, each month, the social services district will pay to you up to the first $200 of current support. Support that is paid in the month when it is due is called "current support." The money that you are allowed to keep is called the "child support pass-through" payment, and it does not count as income or reduce the amount of assistance you receive.
You are entitled to the child support pass-through only if the child support is paid in the month when it is due. The amount of the pass-through that you receive depends on the number of children receiving temporary assistance on your case and is limited by the monthly obligation amount. For example, if the child support obligation is $25 per month, and the child support collected in a month is $50, the child support pass-through payment for that month is limited to $25.
If the amount of support collected is more than the cumulative amount of the temporary assistance paid to you and your family since your temporary assistance case opened, the excess amount is called "excess support." You are entitled to all of that "excess support." This might happen if you have other income such as wages which would reduce the amount of temporary assistance that you receive, or if the obligation for support to which you are entitled is more than the amount of the temporary assistance grant that you are receiving.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Desk Review
- What is a desk review?
- The desk review process is an administrative review by the social services district of assigned child support collections received and disbursed. It is available for current and former temporary assistance recipients who believe that they did not receive a child support pass-through payment or excess support payment that they believe they should have received, or who believe that the amount of the pass-through or excess support payment they received was too low.
- How do I know if I should request a desk review?
- If you believe you were entitled to a child support pass-through or excess support payment while on temporary assistance and didn't receive it, or if you believe that the pass-through or excess support payments you received were too low, you may be owed money and you should request a desk review as soon as possible.
- How do I request a desk review?
To request a desk review, you must obtain a desk review form, fill it out and sign it, and then send it in to your local district support collection unit. You can get the form by:
- Downloading the form from this web site;
- Calling the Child Support Helpline (1-888-208-4485, TTY: 1-866-875-9975), the general information line, and having it sent to you; or
- Requesting a form in person from your local district support collection unit.
- How long does a desk review take?
- The social services district must issue a determination in writing within 45 days of the date of receipt of a desk review request form. This determination must be sent to you by first class mail and will include a copy of any worksheet used as part of the review process and documentation considered in the desk review. You will also receive a copy of the form needed for requesting a state-level review of the determination made by the social services district.
- Can I request a desk review if I am no longer on public assistance?
- Yes. Desk reviews can be requested by current or former recipients of temporary assistance.
- How far back can I ask the local district to go in assessing whether I was paid what I am owed?
- The answer depends upon the type of review you request. The period of review for a pass-through payment is limited to the calendar year in which the desk review is requested and the previous calendar year. However, if an excess support review is requested, support collection must be received and disbursed in the calendar year in which the desk review is requested or the previous calendar year to be eligible for the desk review. But, once you are determined to be eligible for an excess support desk review, the desk review will be conducted for all periods that you were on temporary assistance in your social services district.
If your local district support collection unit receives the request form during the month of January, your desk review request will be treated as if it were received in December of the prior year.
- If I am owed money, how will I get it?
- If you are a current recipient of temporary assistance, any pass-through and/or excess support payment that you are owed will be deposited into your Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) account. If you are a former recipient whose temporary assistance case recently closed, any pass-through payments that are owed to you for the period you received temporary assistance will be deposited into your EBT account. As a former recipient of temporary assistance who is owed an excess support payment, you will receive a check in the mail.
- What if I need help filling out the desk review request form?
The desk review request form provides you with an opportunity to request a conference with the social services district. You can fill the form out with what you know and check the box to request a conference so that you can explain directly to a social services district representative why you think you are entitled to the desk review.
You can also find a lawyer or other advocate or friend to assist you in filling out the form.
- What is a conference?
- A conference provides an opportunity for you to discuss your concerns about your desk review more fully. You can either speak with the social services district over the telephone or you can make an appointment to meet face-to-face with a social services district representative.
- Do I need a lawyer to assist with this process?
- No. You do not need a lawyer to assist you with this process. You are entitled to the assistance of a lawyer, if you wish, at your own expense or though a local not-for-profit legal services corporation. A lawyer may assist you in filling out the desk review request form.
- Can I just bring these issues up at a Fair Hearing?
- No. Pass-through payments and excess support payments may not be addressed at a Fair Hearing.
- What if I do not agree with the desk review decision—is it appealable?
- After the social services district's desk review determination is issued, if you disagree with the decision made, you may request a state-level review within 20 days of the date of the social services district determination. The instructions on how to do this will be on the written decision that you receive. Your request must also be in writing, must specify the facts in dispute, and must include a copy of the desk review determination and any additional but previously unavailable documentation upon which you rely. The State will review the facts of the case and the case record and issue a written determination to you.
- Will the State respond to my request for a state review?
- The State will provide a written decision after reviewing your facts which are in dispute, the social services district's desk review determination and documentation, and the child support case record.
- What if I do not agree with the State's decision regarding my desk review—is it appealable?
- After the written determination is issued by the State, if you still disagree with the decision made and can provide specific facts as to why you disagree, you may request a review under Article 78 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules within 4 months of the date of the determination letter. The instructions on how to do this will be on the written decision that you receive. You will be provided with the name and telephone number of a local not-for-profit legal services corporation if you need legal assistance.