Desk Review

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Desk Reviews

What is an assignment of support rights?
When you apply for Temporary Assistance (TA), and for as long as you receive TA, you assign, or transfer, to the social services district (district) your rights to receive support payments on your own behalf and any rights to support on behalf of anyone for whom you are applying for, or receiving, TA. This means that the district will keep support collections received on behalf of you or your family while you are on TA. The district will use the support to reimburse the TA paid to you or your family. TA paid includes TA payments made directly to a landlord, utility company, or other vendor on your behalf.

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What is a pass-through payment?
If the current support obligation is paid in the month it is due, the district will give you a portion of these assigned support collections in addition to the TA grant. The portion of the support payment given to you is called a pass-through payment.

The amount of the pass-through that you receive depends on the number of individuals under age 21 active on your TA case and the current support obligation collected each month. Pass-through payments are an amount up to:
  • $100.00 per month of current support collected or up to the current support obligation collected, whichever is less, for a family with one individual under the age of 21 active on the TA case; or
  • $200.00 per month of current support collected or up to the current support obligation collected, whichever is less, for a family with two or more individuals under the age of 21 active on the TA case.
For more information, see the examples of pass-through payments.

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What is a cumulative excess support payment?
If the amount of support collected and kept by the district is more than the total amount of TA paid to you and your family during all periods you were on TA in the district since your TA case opened, you are entitled to the extra amount of support. The cumulative excess support payment is a payment made to you equal to the amount of extra support collected and kept by the district.

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What should I do if I think I am owed money from a pass-through payment or cumulative excess support payment?
As a first step, see the examples. They may help you understand the amount of the payment you received or why you did not receive a payment.

If you still have questions after reviewing the examples, contact your TA worker at your district to discuss your questions. You can either speak to your TA worker over the telephone, or you can make an appointment to meet face-to-face with your TA worker.

If your concerns are not resolved after reviewing the examples and contacting your TA worker, you may wish to request a desk review.

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What is a desk review?
A desk review is the process used to check the district accounting of assigned support collections. It reviews the receipt and disbursement of support collections made on behalf of current and former TA recipients.

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How do I know if I should request a desk review?
You should request a desk review if you still have questions about a pass-through payment or cumulative excess support payment after you have:
  • Reviewed the payment examples provided on this website; and
  • Discussed your concerns with your TA worker at your district. You can either speak to your TA worker over the telephone, or you can make an appointment to meet face-to-face with your TA worker.

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How do I request a desk review?
To request a desk review, you must obtain a first-level desk review form, fill it out and sign it, and then send it in to your district support collection unit. You can get the first-level desk review 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 the form by sending an email or writing to your district support collection unit.

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How long does a first-level desk review take?
The district must issue a determination in writing within 45 business days of the date of receipt of a properly completed first-level 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 (second-level) review of the determination made by the district. You will only need to use this form if you disagree with the first-level desk review and are not able to resolve your questions by talking to the district worker who completed the first-level review.

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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 TA.

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How far back can I ask the 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 a review is requested for a cumulative excess support payment, a support collection must have been 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 a cumulative excess support desk review, the review will be conducted for all periods that you were on TA in your district.

For more information, see the examples of time periods for a desk review.

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If I am owed money, how will I get it?
If you are a current recipient of TA, any pass-through and/or cumulative excess support payment that you are owed will be made available on your Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card. If you are a former recipient whose TA case recently closed, any pass-through payments that are owed to you for the period you received TA will be made available on your EBT card. As a former recipient of TA who is owed a cumulative excess support payment, you will receive a check in the mail.

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What if I need help filling out the desk review request form?
The first-level desk review request form provides you with an opportunity to request a conference with the 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 district worker 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.

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What is a conference?
A conference provides an opportunity for you to discuss your concerns about your first-level desk review more fully. You can either speak with the district over the telephone, or you can make alternative arrangements with your district support collection unit worker.

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Do I need a lawyer for a desk review?
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 through a local not-for-profit legal services corporation. A lawyer may assist you in filling out the desk review request form.

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Can I just bring these issues up at a fair hearing?
No. Pass-through payments and cumulative excess support payments may not be addressed at a fair hearing.

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Can I appeal the district's desk review decision if I do not agree with it?
After the district's first-level desk review determination is issued, if you disagree with the decision made, you should first contact your district worker to discuss your concerns. If you still disagree after speaking with your district worker, you may request a state-level (second-level) review within 20 business days of the date of the district determination. The instructions on how to do this will be on the written decision that you receive. Your request for a second-level review must also be in writing, must specify the facts in dispute, and must include a copy of the first-level 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.

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Will the State respond to my request for a second-level review?
The State will provide a written decision after reviewing your facts which are in dispute, the district's first-level desk review determination and documentation, and the child support case record.

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Can I appeal the State's desk review decision if I do not agree with it?
After the written second-level desk review 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.

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Examples

Pass-through Payments

Example 1: Joey Johnson has one child under age 21 on his TA case. Joey has an order of support payable through the Support Collection Unit that requires the noncustodial parent to pay a current support obligation of $250 monthly. The noncustodial parent paid the full $250 for the month. Joey's household is entitled to a $100 pass-through payment.

Example 2: The noncustodial parent of Joey Johnson's child (see example 1) falls on hard times and pays only $75 current support for the month. Because the pass-through cannot be more than the monthly current support collection, Joey's household is entitled to a $75 pass-through payment.

Example 3: The noncustodial parent of Joey Johnson's child (see example 1) continues to experience financial difficulties and he pays no ($0) current support for the month. Because no current support was collected during the month, Joey's household is not entitled to a pass-through payment.

Example 4: Shawna Davis has two children under the age of 21 on her TA case. The children have the same noncustodial parent. Shawna has an order of support payable through the Support Collection Unit that requires the noncustodial parent to pay a current support obligation of $300 monthly. The noncustodial parent paid the full $300 for the month. Shawna's household is entitled to a $200 pass-through payment.

Example 5: Mary Martin has two children under the age of 21 on her TA case. The children have different noncustodial parents. There are two orders for support payable through the Support Collection Unit and two child support accounts. On the account for the first child, $100 is collected for the month. On the account for the second child, $25 is collected for the month. Because the pass-through cannot be more than the monthly current support collection, Mary's household is entitled to a $125 pass-through payment.

Example 6: Samir Sabri has two children under the age of 21 on his TA case. The children have different noncustodial parents. There are two orders for support payable through the Support Collection Unit and two child support accounts. On the account for the first child, $300 is collected for the month. On the account for the second child, $0 is collected for the month. Samir's household is entitled to a $200 pass-through payment.

Example 7: Janice Smith has two children under the age of 21 on her TA case. The children have different noncustodial parents. There are two orders for support payable through the Support Collection Unit and two child support accounts. On the account for the first child, $150 is collected for the month. On the account for the second child, $100 is collected for the month. Janice's household is entitled to a $200 pass-through payment.

Example 8: Laura Sato has two children under the age of 21 on her TA case. The children have different noncustodial parents. There is one order for support payable through the Support Collection Unit and one child support account. The noncustodial parent is required to pay a current support obligation of $400 monthly and paid the full $400 for the month. Laura’s household is entitled to a $200 pass-through payment.

Cumulative Excess Support Payments

Example 1: Roland Taylor's household is no longer eligible for TA. The total unreimbursed assistance for all periods in which the household received TA is $7,200. Mr. Taylor only receives an excess support payment in the event that greater than $7,200 is collected as support (or via other recoupment methods such as lottery offset or lien recovery). Because the total amount of the assigned support collections is $7,500, Roland's household is entitled to a $300 cumulative excess support payment.

Example 2: Lisa Green's household is no longer eligible for TA. The total unreimbursed assistance for all periods in which the household received TA is $10,200. Of this amount, $9,000 was paid to her landlord and $1,200 was paid directly to her. The total amount of the assigned support collections is $9,500. Lisa's household is not entitled to any cumulative excess support payment.

Time Periods for a Desk Review

Example 1: Mr. Bogart requests a desk review on October 23, 2020 because he believes he is owed more money from a pass-through payment made in September 2019. Mr. Bogart is eligible for a desk review since the payment in question was made prior to October 23, 2020 and on or after January 1, 2019.

Example 2: Ms. Bacall requests a desk review on June 12, 2020 because she believes she is owed a pass-through payment for May 2020. This payment is not yet available on her Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card (also known as a Common Benefits Identification Card). However, it must be posted to her EBT card by June 20, 2020. This is because pass-through payments must be issued by the 20th calendar day of each month. Ms. Bacall may request a desk review if the pass-through payment is not posted on her EBT card by June 21, but she is likely to receive a faster response by contacting her TA worker.

Example 3: Mr. Lee requests a desk review on December 27, 2020 because he believes the district has kept more support than he received in TA. The last payment received on Mr. Lee's child support account was received in February 2020. Mr. Lee is eligible for a desk review of a cumulative excess support payment because a child support payment was made prior to December 27, 2020 and on or after January 1, 2019.

Example 4: Ms. Tyson requests a desk review on January 31, 2020 because she believes the district has kept more support than she received in TA. The last payment received on Ms. Tyson's child support account was received in October 2018. Ms. Tyson is not eligible for a desk review of a cumulative excess support payment because a child support payment was not made on or after January 1, 2019 and before January 31, 2020.