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Commissioners Office
John H. Mulroy Civic Center
421 Montgomery St.
Syracuse NY, 13202

Legal Division

The Legal Division provides legal advice and counsel to the Commissioner, directors, and employees of the Department of Social Services. It also provides legal representation in all matters involving the Department except child welfare and child support. Within the Legal Division are (1) the Fair Hearing Unit which represents the Department in administrative hearings, (2) the Resource Recovery Unit which processes mortgages, indigent burials, and estates, (3) the Social Security Transition Unit which assists applicants and recipients of Temporary Assistance in qualifying for SSI and SSD, and (4) the Fraud Investigations Unit which is responsible for investigating and deterring fraud within all program areas including Temporary Assistance, Medicaid, Day Care, Food Stamps, and HEAP. The Legal Division’s hours are from 8:00 – 4:30.

Phone: (315) 435-2585
FAX: (315) 435-2113
E-Mail: Paula.Engel@dfa.state.ny.us

To schedule a hearing or check the status of a decision, you must contact the New York State Fair Hearing Unit. You may contact them in the following ways:

Phone: 1-800-342-3334 
FAX: (518) 473-6735
Submit Online Request: http://www.otda.state.ny.us/oah/forms.asp
Write to:

NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance
Fair Hearing Section
P.O. Box 1930
Albany, NY  12201

You may contact the Onondaga County Fair Hearing Unit in the following ways, but the local district does not have the ability to schedule or change a fair hearing date: 

Phone: (315) 435-2585
FAX: (315) 435-2113
E-Mail: Tara.Newcomb@dfa.state.ny.us

The Resource Unit is responsible for taking and processing mortgages for applicants and recipients of some social services. It is responsible for paying for and assisting in the scheduling of burials for residents of Onondaga County who die without funds or family to arrange and pay for a burial. The Resource Unit also makes claims against estates for the recovery of Medicaid payments that have been made during one’s lifetime.

Apply for Burial Assistance here: Burial Grant Application Information Sheet November 2012
Burial Application (Revised September 2012)

The Social Security Transition Unit (SST) assists applicants and recipients of Temporary Assistance in qualifying for SSI and SSD. The unit assists such applicants and recipients in filling out the applications and in obtaining necessary medical evaluations and documentation and works closely with Legal Aid of Mid New York to appeal adverse decisions. You may contact the Resource or SST unit in the following ways:

Phone: (315) 435-2585 
FAX: (315) 435-2215
E-Mail:  Kevin.Grossman@dfa.state.ny.us

The investigations division is responsible for investigating all client fraud. If you suspect fraud, you may leave a confidential message detailing your allegations. Please be sure to include the name, address, and any other identifying information of the person suspected of fraud. You may contact the Fraud Division in the following ways:

Phone: (315) 435-2585
FAX: (315) 435-2113
E-Mail: Mark.Wierzbicki@dfa.state.ny.us


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