Vol 47 No 47 MAY 26 - JUNE 1, 2005



Governor George E. Pataki announced that New York State recouped nearly $5 million in outstanding child support payments and public assistance repayments from lottery winners during the State's 2004-05 fiscal year, through New York's Lottery Intercept Program.

"We are proud of our efforts to increase child support collections to record levels in this State and ensure that children and families receive the support they deserve. If someone who has failed to pay child support has the good fortune to win a lottery prize, we want to also ensure that their children share in that good fortune and get what is legally and morally entitled to them," Governor Pataki said. "It is also reasonable to require former public assistance recipients, who enjoy a financial windfall thanks to the lottery, to pay back at least a portion of what they were given in assistance."

Governor Pataki fought for the establishment of the Lottery Intercept, which was enacted in 1995. The State matches the names of lottery winners with files from the State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA), identifying those who owe back child support or who have received welfare benefits up to 10 years prior to winning a lottery prize.

The program can deduct up to 100 percent of winnings for delinquent child support and up to 50 percent to repay welfare benefits. If the lottery winner fits both criteria, the child support arrears are paid first.

In the 2004-05 Fiscal Year, there were 1,057 intercepts for child support totaling $711,660 and 5,102 intercepts for public assistance programs totaling more than $4.2 million. This represents an increase over the previous year, when the total child support collected under this program was $510,893 to go along with $3.7 million recouped from public assistance recipients.

Since its inception, the program has intercepted nearly $10 million for child support and more than $25 million in public assistance costs.

Child support payments in New York topped $1.4 billion in 2004 a $65 million increase over 2003. The collections included $538 million for New York City, an increase of 157 percent over 1994 and $911 million for the rest of state, an increase of 123 percent since 1994.

OTDA Commissioner Robert Doar said, "The intercept is one of many initiatives championed by Governor Pataki that have gained New York State national prominence for collection efforts. Thanks to the Governor's leadership, more children than ever are being supported by both parents. Governor Pataki made this a priority when he took office and the results speak for themselves."

New York Lottery Director Nancy A. Palumbo said, "We are pleased to assist Governor Pataki in his efforts to ensure that children and families in New York State receive the support they deserve. The Governor's utilization of technology and agency partnership within the state system has enabled the Lottery to partner with the OTDA and greatly benefit the State's families who are dependent on child support collections. We are very proud to play a part in their success."

Other partnerships among state agencies have also helped boost child support collections. Governor Pataki pushed for legislation to use the broad collection powers of the state Department of Taxation and Finance to enforce child support cases that are four months in arrears.

In 2004, the Tax Department collected $58,361,125, including asset seizures, involving an average monthly caseload of 13,195 cases. The total amount collected under this program since its inception in March of 1997 is $350 million.

The State Labor Department's Child Support Intercept Program compares the names of child support obligors against the names of individuals who receive unemployment insurance benefits. When there is a match, the agency withholds child support from the obligor's unemployment insurance benefits and then transmits it to the child support program for distribution to the families. The program intercepted $37.5 million in 2004, and had captured more than $315 million since 1995.