Consumer Alert:
Attorney General James Suspends State Debt Collection for 13th 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 April 30, 2021

NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Letitia James today announced that the state has halted, for the 13th time, 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 April 30, 2021. In response to continuing financial impairments resulting from the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the OAG again renewed orders, which took effect this morning, and goes through Friday, April 30, 2021. 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.

“Increased vaccine distribution and expanded eligibility across our state may soon mean a return to normalcy, but hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers are still struggling to make ends meet,” said Attorney General James. “The aftershocks of the recession continue to reverberate throughout New York state, which is why we are, again, renewing the suspension of state and medical debt collection referred to my office for another month. Achieving a return to a more normal life begins with rebuilding our economy and getting New Yorkers back on their feet, and I will continue to do everything in my power to support New Yorkers so that they can support themselves.”

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 5.2 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 last March and renewed last April, in May, in June, in July, in August, in September, in October, in November, in January, in February, and in March — 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 April 30, 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.