Gov. Andrew Cuomo late last week signed legislation protecting federal stimulus money for individuals and families in New York from levies and restraints. The law is a major victory for New Yorkers and strongly supported by the New York Credit Union Association.
When Congress passed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 earlier this year, it did not include language exempting the payments from levy and restraint. Credit unions and other financial institutions are generally required to honor third-party requests for levies and restraints. The new law ensures third-party debt collectors cannot garnish any direct payments from the American Rescue Plan to New Yorkers.
The law builds on credit unions’ efforts to support New Yorkers who have struggled financially as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. New York’s credit unions, which have worked tirelessly to lift up members and communities hit hard by the pandemic, strongly supported and helped craft the legislation.
“The credit union mission boils down to one succinct phrase: people helping people,” said William J. Mellin, the Association’s president/CEO . “The direct payments in the American Rescue Plan Act were intended to lift up those who are hurting financially. While we are disappointed no legislation at the federal level has included protections from levies and restraints, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Legislature should be commended for recognizing the imminent need to protect these funds and guarantee they end up in the pockets of New Yorkers – not the hands of a debt collector. On behalf of the credit union movement and all New Yorkers, I thank the governor and leaders in the Legislature for overseeing this important legislation and ensuring it became law.”