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HomeLocal NewsEligibility requirements for 'senior freeze' program recipients should be eased, county commissioner...

Eligibility requirements for ‘senior freeze’ program recipients should be eased, county commissioner says

Senior citizens that receive the state’s Senior Freeze Program reimbursement should not have to start all over again to meet program residency requirements if they move within the state.

Ocean County Commissioner Joseph H. Vicari, Chairman of the Ocean County Office of Senior Services, noted that the eligibility requirements for the Senior Freeze Program require home ownership within a residence for three years and continued residency in New Jersey for a period of 10 years.

“That three-year time clock is reset and starts all over again if a senior should move to a different home in the state,” said Vicari. “That should not be the case.

“This program provides important property tax relief to our seniors, disabled and our most vulnerable residents,” Vicari said. “So long as the person stays within the state of New Jersey, there is no need to make them meet the three-year requirement again if they have already done so.”

Known as the Property Tax Reimbursement Program, the Senior Freeze Program is designed to protect eligible senior citizens and disabled persons from escalating property taxes by locking in a fixed base property tax amount, paying the difference between that locked in amount and the increased amount when a tax increase is imposed.

“Having to wait the three-years again to establish a residence is unfair if a resident was already a participant in the program prior to moving,” Vicari said. “This program provides important financial relief for many people already on fixed incomes. Our residents should not be penalized for moving so long as they meet all of the other eligibility requirements.”

Vicari noted that state legislators in Ocean County’s 9th, 10, and 12th state Legislative districts have co-sponsored or supported proposed state legislation that would remedy the residency requirement for this program.

“I applaud these efforts and I look forward to our residents being able to continue with this program should they move within the state,” Vicari said.

Ocean County is home to more than 200,000 senior citizens.

Nearly 160,000 homeowners across the state received senior-freeze reimbursements during the 2021 fiscal year, ranging on average from $196 for new recipients to $1,348 for longer-term enrollees, according to state budget documents.

“As prices on every day essentials like gas and food continue to climb, we need to make certain our seniors and disabled can access programs available to them that will help keep some costs stable,” said Director of the Ocean County Board of Commissioners John P. Kelly.

SOURCE: Ocean County press office

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