Attorney General James Renews Suspension of State Debt Collection for 10th Time as Coronavirus Continues to Impact New Yorkers’ Wallets
New Yorkers with Student and Medical Debt Referred to AG’s Office
Will Have Payments Automatically Frozen Through February 28, 2021
NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Letitia James today announced that the state has renewed, for the 10th time, an order to halt the collection of medical and student debt owed to the state of New York that has been specifically referred to the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) for collection — with limited exceptions — through February 28, 2021. In response to continuing financial impairments resulting from the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the OAG has again renewed orders, which took effect this morning and goes through Sunday, February 28, 2021. After this period, the OAG will reassess the needs of state residents for another possible extension. Additionally, the OAG will accept applications for suspension of all other types of debt owed to the state of New York and referred to the OAG for collection.
“While we continue to vaccinate more New Yorkers every day, our state is still suffering the health and economic effects of this deadly disease,” said Attorney General James. “Hundreds of thousands of businesses have shuttered their doors, millions remain unemployed, and the economic fallout of this public health crisis is still being felt in every corner of our state. In an effort to counter the financial hardships of the COVID-19 pandemic, my office is, once again, renewing the suspension of state and medical debt referred to my office for another month. We must do everything in our power to rebuild our state’s economy and give New Yorkers a helping hand.”
Millions of New Yorkers, like Americans across the nation, have been impacted — directly or indirectly — by the spread of COVID-19, forcing them to forgo income and business. Since COVID-19 began to spread rapidly across the country last year, tens of millions of residents across the nation have filed for unemployment, including more than 4.8 million in New York state alone. In an effort to support many New Yorkers economically impacted during this difficult time, Attorney General James today renewed an order — first made in March and renewed in April, in May, in June, in July, in August, in September, in October, in November, and in December — to ease the financial burdens for many workers and families by halting the collection of medical and student debt owed to the state of New York and referred to the OAG for collection — with limited exceptions — through February 28, 2021.
The OAG collects certain debts owed to the state of New York via settlements and lawsuits brought on behalf of the state of New York and state agencies. A total of more than 165,000 matters currently fit the criteria for a suspension of state debt collection, including, but not limited to:
- Patients that owe medical debt due to the five state hospitals and the five state veterans’ homes;
- Students that owe student debt due to State University of New York (SUNY) campuses; and
- Individual debtors, sole-proprietors, small business owners, and certain homeowners that owe debt relating to oil spill cleanup and removal costs, property damage, and breach of contract, as well as other fees owed to state agencies.
The temporary policy has also automatically suspended the accrual of interest and the collection of fees on all outstanding state medical and student debt referred to the OAG for collection, so New Yorkers are not penalized for taking advantage of this program.
New Yorkers with non-medical or non-student debt owed to the state of New York and referred to the OAG may also apply to temporarily halt the collection of state debt. Individuals seeking to apply for this temporary relief can fill out an application online or visit the OAG’s coronavirus website to learn more about the suspension of payments. If an individual is unable to fill out the online form, they can also call the OAG hotline at 800-771-7755 to learn more.