Were there any opportunities for public comment or were hearings held before the passage of Circular 3B? If so, when and what notice was given to those individuals and/or the Providers?
Ans: Division Circular 3B was developed after DDD was informed (following two audits) by the Social Security Administration (SSA) that the Division has a fiduciary responsibility to ensure that individuals’ funds are collected, spent and maintained within SSA’s guidelines, regardless of whether the Division or an agency is the representative payee.
We felt the emergent nature of this communication from SSA required our immediate action.
Even so, the requirements contained in Division Circular 3B are not new and providers should be familiar with them. Indeed, New Jersey’s licensing Standards for Community Residences for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities clearly states: “The licensee to whom the individual entrusts his or her funds shall assure that the management of such funds does not jeopardize the individual’s entitlements to any appropriate Federal or private benefit.” [See N.J.A.C. 10:44A-2.10 (i)]
In addition, DDD notified providers more than two years ago about other requirements now found in Division Circular 3B. This includes the restriction on retaining more than $800 for any individual in their care and the requirement that excess monies must be returned to DDD.
DDD believes the fact that some agencies have not complied with these requirements, even as individuals in their care have continued to lose eligibility because their account balances were allowed to exceed $2,000, only underscores the urgent need for Division Circular 3B.
DDD’s Administrative Practices Office is pulling together a workgroup that will expand on Division Circular 3B. We expect the workgroup to be convened shortly.