Effective October 17, 2017, victims of hate crimes and elderly and disabled victims can now seek compensation through the State Office of Victim Services (“State Compensation Fund”). New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation expanding eligibility for compensation from the compensation fund of the State Compensation Fund. This law provides relief for victims who have no other means of paying for expenses that resulted from a crime.
Before Governor Cuomo expanded eligibility, only a subset of victims qualified for the State Compensation Fund. Previously, the law required a physical injury for an individual to be eligible to receive compensation, with the exception generally involving domestic violence-related crimes. The new provision signed by Governor Cuomo removed that requirement, thus allowing for more victims to receive compensation. This new provision will expand coverage to victims of robbery, criminal mischief, menacing, harassment, aggravated harassment, and criminal contempt. The new law recognizes that, although some victims may not suffer a physical injury, they may suffer trauma as a crime victim and should be compensated accordingly.
Additionally, the new provision allows the State Compensation Fund to compensate vulnerable elderly and disabled individuals who may have suffered a loss in their financial savings due to the crime. The State Compensation Fund will compensate eligible vulnerable elderly and disabled individuals up to $30,000 per incident. Previously, the compensation was only available for the loss of earnings or government benefits of elderly and disabled individuals. Eligible vulnerable and disabled individuals are defined as those who are incapable of caring for themselves, and seniors who are at least the age of 60.
The State Compensation Fund is available to both victims and their family members. Funds are available for medical and counseling expenses, funeral and burial costs, as well as reimbursement of wages lost as the result of the crime committed. The State Compensation Fund is funded by fines, mandatory surcharges, and crime victim assistance fees that certain offenders must pay following a conviction.