Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan
Reports to the People
Winter 2005

Dear Neighbor,

Making ends meet on a fixed income can be a difficult task for most senior citizens. Prices for food, housing and medical care are constantly on the rise while income remains at a fixed amount. Over the years, the state legislature has created various programs to assist seniors with the daily cost of living. These programs, along with the valuable services provided by our local senior centers, can greatly increase the quality of life for our friends and loved ones. This newsletter outlines some of these valuable programs. As always, my district offices are ready to assist you, a family member or neighbor in applying for these helpful programs.

Additionally, I have been working with the Ridgewood Older Adult Senior Center to secure a much needed financial contribution for rent from the city. We will not give up our fight.

This newsletter also addresses some frequently asked banking related questions. As the Chairwoman of the Assembly’s Banks Committee, I have made the availability of affordable, convenient banking services and financial literacy a priority. To that end, I am pleased to report that I was able to secure $250,000 in state funds for LaGuardia Community College’s financial literacy project.

As the legislature returns to Albany in January for the new legislative session, I will continue to work with our local community groups, attempt to vote your views on pending legislation and represent our district in the state’s capital. I wish you and your family a healthy and happy holiday season and look forward to working with you in the New Year.

Catherine Nolan

Financial Literacy Funds Delivered to Laguardia Community College

I am pleased to announce that I was able to obtain $250,000 in state funds to establish a financial literacy program at LaGuardia Community College. This allocation is expected to be matched by the New York State Banking Department for a total of $500,000.

These funds will be used to create financial literacy classes and to explore steps needed to establish a certificate program in financial planning.

Gaining financial knowledge at any age is critical to building confidence and creating opportunities. Financial literacy can pave the way for financial independence and success. This funding will help create the programs necessary to teach these much needed skills.

LaGuardia Community College, which is easily accessible from all over the 37th Assembly District, has the ability to reach and educate a diverse range of community members. This program will empower community residents and give guidance to a growing number of entrepreneurs in our community.

I am thrilled to have been able to secure these funds for such an important program. I am excited for the pilot program’s potential in our community and confident in LaGuardia Community College’s ability to make it a success.

photo I was pleased to join with Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and the Dutch Kills Civic Association to demand that homeland security grants be used to reopen the now-closed Engine Company 261 in Long Island City. We will not give up the fight to have our firehouse reopened. Among those pictured with me and Congresswoman Maloney is Gerald Walsh, President of the Dutch Kills Civic Association.

Frequently Asked Banking Questions

photo Credit unions bring a wealth of accessible financial services to the communities they serve. I arranged a meeting between Queens Borough President Helen Marshall and the New York State Credit Union League. Pictured above with me and Borough President Helen Marshall are members of the NYSCUL and Brian Quiara, legislative analyst for the Assembly’s Banks Committee.

My bank statement showed a debit that I didn’t make – what can I do about it?

Call your bank immediately – report problems within 60 days of the date of the statement. Contact a customer service representative or a bank manager for assistance. They will take down the details of your complaint and initiate an investigation. The bank must let you know the outcome of the investigation.

What is the difference between a credit card and a debit card?

Making a purchase with a credit card is like taking out a loan that you must pay back later. You may charge up to the limit posed by the issuer and interest can be accrued. A debit card is an ATM card that allows you to make purchases. Debit cards look just like traditional ATM cards, but they are often confused with credit cards. Think of it as cash or immediate access to a checking account. The money is quickly deducted from your account. Debit cards do not carry the same consumer protection as credit cards. Federal law permits a maximum liability of $50 if the lost or stolen card is reported within two days of discovery. The liability increases to $500 after if reported within 60 days. After 60 days there is no limit on liability. Keep in mind that many banks do not allow you to stop payment on a debit card transaction.

The bank I went to would not cash my payroll check. Can they do that?

If you do not have an account at the bank, it has the right not to cash your check. However, your employer can make arrangements with the bank to cash payroll checks.

How long is a personal check valid?

Six months. A bank is not obligated to honor the check after the validity date has expired.

photo I was happy to arrange with Citibank to replace the boiler at St. Mary’s Senior Center. Besides providing quality programs for seniors, the center also hosts the Queens Library’s Family Literacy Program. Among those pictured above with me are Eileen Auld of Citibank, Thomas Galante, Jimmy Van Bramer and Silvana Vasconcellos of the Queens Library, and Robin Apparicio of St. Marys.

What is the difference between overdraft protection and draft protection?

An overdraft occurs when the balance of your checking account is negative, resulting from writing a check or making a withdrawal for an amount totaling more than the amount in your account.

Overdraft protection is an optional banking service. With overdraft protection, a line of credit or another account that you have at your bank is linked to your checking account so that, when an overdraft occurs, funds are automatically transferred to cover the negative balance.

Bounce protection is a service that banks will sometimes automatically attach to your checking account. With bounce protection the bank covers overdrafts up to a certain limit and charges the account holder their standard insufficient funds fee for each overdraft. These overdrafts must be repaid or accounts brought to a positive balance within a set period of time, generally within 30 days. Some banks will charge a daily fee until there is a positive balance in the account. Some banks will include the bounce protection amount you have available when they give you your available balance.

I deposited a check but the bank has not credited my account. How long does it take for a check to clear?

Availability of funds generally depends on three things: where the check is drawn (a local or out-of-town institution), the amount of the deposit, and the issuer on the check. A check can take from one to five days for all of the funds that it represents to become available.


EPICElderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage Program (EPIC) – EPIC is New York State’s pharmaceutical prescription plan for senior citizens. Eligible seniors save more than half the cost of most of their prescription drugs, including insulin and insulin syringes, as well as brand names of generic drugs. There are two coverage plans under EPIC: the Fee Plan and the Deductible Plan.

Seniors who join the Fee Plan will pay an annual fee based on their income and are entitled to purchase their prescriptions at the EPIC discount price immediately. You can join the Fee Plan if you are single and have an annual income of $20,000 or less, or if you are married and have an income of $26,000 or less.

Seniors who join the Deductible Plan pay no fee to join. The participants pay the full price of the prescription costs until the deductible amount has been spent. Once the participants have satisfied their deductible, prescriptions can be filled at the EPIC co-payment cost for the rest of the enrollment year. You can join the Deductible Plan if you are single and have an annual income between $20,000 and $35,000 or if you are married and have an income between $26,000 and $50,000.

To be eligible for EPIC an individual must be 65 years of age or older and a resident of NYS for at least six months. Seniors who have full Medicaid benefit or prescription drug coverage of 70 percent or more do not qualify for EPIC. For further information please call 1-800-332-3742 or my office.

REDUCED FARE — The MTA offers Reduced Fare for seniors and the disabled, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, on NYC subways, buses and express buses. In addition, eligible participants receive free transfers between subways and buses if they use a reduced fare Metrocard within two hours after paying their fare.

Anyone who is aged 65 or older or has a qualifying disability, may be eligible for reduced fare. There is no limit in income and resources. For more information, please call (718) 243-4999 or call my office. In addition, the Metrocard bus comes to both of my district offices to sign up eligible residents.

SCRIESenior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption – SCRIE provides elderly renters with exemptions from future rent increases. Once determined eligible, the tenant’s rent will be frozen at the amount paid just before the most recent rent increase or 1/3 of the household’s monthly disposable income, whichever is greater. The building owner then receives a property tax abatement equal to the amount of the tenant’s rent increase exemption.

In order to be eligible for SCRIE, applicants must meet all of the following requirements: be age 62 or older, be the head of the household, live in a rent controlled or rent stabilized apartment, total household income cannot exceed $24,000, monthly rent must be at least 1/3 of the monthly household income and if you are rent controlled you must have an increase in your rent. For additional information, contact my office.

SCHESenior Citizen Homeowners Exemption Program - SCHE provides a reduction of 5 percent to 50 percent on NYC real property tax to qualified homeowners and owners of condos or co-ops. In order to be eligible you must meet all of the following requirements: be age 65 or older, total income must be less than $32,400, property must be a 1,2, or 3 family home, co-op or condo and you must have held title to the property for at least 12 consecutive months prior to March 15 of the year the exemption goes into effect. For further information, contact my office.

I was pleased to be able to once again (for the 20th year!) direct state funding to Queensbridge’s Jacob Riis Senior Center. I am especially proud that I have been able to provide state funding to all of the senior centers in our Assembly District. Among those pictured with me are Dorothy Peterson, Ruth Biddings, Elizabeth Mc Queen and William Newlin.

photo I am proud to bring the Metrocard bus to both of my district offices so that residents can sign up for this terrific program. photo I was happy to join the seniors at the Ravenswood Senior Center’s second annual Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities (NORC) Health Fair. The seniors received dental checkups, vision tests, diabetes screenings and bone density tests. Pictured with me from left to right are Police Officer Anita Jackson, Marie Platia, Isabel Arias, Maureen O’Donnelly, Tovia Tiganites, Deborah Berry, Alexandra Ramos and Karen Graciano.

photo It was a pleasure to help swear in White Castle’s John Vogt as the new president of the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce. photo I was honored to be asked to participate in the Turkish American Multicultural Education Foundation’s Dinner.

photo I greatly enjoyed the celebration sponsored by the Puerto Rican Society of Queens at their recent dinner. Among those pictured with me are Alice Cardona, Eva De la O, Enna Serrano, Aurea Rodriguez, Manny Rosa, Eric Sterling, Haydee Romano, and Aida Descartes.


My district offices are here to serve you. If you have a question, problem or complaint, please do not hesitate to call, drop by, write or e-mail. Both offices are open Monday through Friday from 9am – 5pm.

61-08 Linden Street
Ridgewood, NY 11385
(718) 456-9492
45-25 47th Street
Woodside, NY 11377
(718) 784-3194