PA 10-183—sHB 5399

Human Services Committee


SUMMARY: This act requires the Department of Social Services (DSS) commissioner to notify (1) applicants for aid from DSS' major public assistance programs and (2) other people who DSS knows may be liable to repay such aid, under the state's public assistance recoveries law, that they may be liable to make repayments.

The commissioner must give the notice to (1) the applicant at the time of the application and (2) liable party at the time of the application or within 30 days after the applicant is determined eligible for assistance. The notice must be (1) written in plain language; (2) easy to read and understand; and (3) in the applicant's or other liable party's first language, when possible. The act applies to the State Supplement, medical assistance (Medicaid), Temporary Family Assistance (TFA), and State-Administered General Assistance (SAGA) programs.

DSS' existing application for its major public assistance programs includes a page notifying applicants of their liability for repaying the state from their property, financial windfalls, or estates when they die.

The act also makes a technical change.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2010


Repayment Law and DSS Notification

By law, the state's claim takes precedence over all other claims when someone age 18 or older who received public assistance acquires property of any kind, including windfalls. The claim is a lien against the windfall amount from a lawsuit or inheritance that generally equals the lesser of the amount of assistance paid or 50% of the windfall proceeds. For other windfalls, such as the lottery and property acquisitions, the state claim is 100% of the proceeds or amount of assistance provided. Certain windfall payments are exempt, such as proceeds of discrimination suits.

The state also has a claim against the estates of (1) the parents of a child who has received aid from TFA, Aid to Families with Dependent Children (predecessor to TFA), or SAGA and (2) any adult who received this aid, Medicaid, or State Supplement benefits. The claim is for the entire amount of assistance, provided (1) the state has not been reimbursed for it and (2) a surviving spouse, parent, or dependent child of the deceased does not need the estate proceeds for support (CGS 17b-93, et. seq. ).

DSS' uniform application for public assistance programs includes a page that specifies the state's repayment law.

Legally Liable Relative Law

Another state law makes the parents of a child under age 18 who receives public assistance (but not a parent whose financial liability for a child is determined by DSS' Bureau of Child Support Enforcement) liable for the assistance. But DSS may waive this liability if it will cause significant financial hardship (CGS 4a-12).

The regulations provide that the liability can be as high as the full amount of assistance provided (Conn. Agency Regs. , 4a-12-1, et. seq. ).

State law also requires the DSS commissioner to investigate the financial condition of each legally liable relative and determine his or her ability to contribute toward the support, as required above. The commissioner must notify the relative in writing. This liability starts from the date of the notice retroactive to the date assistance is granted and continues until a court determines otherwise (CGS 17b-81).

OLR Tracking: RC: KM: VR: DF