You may have heard about the retroactive Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) that the Governor provided to OPWDD. OPWDD in turn has designated COLA funds to be given to Com Hab Staff and Support Brokers. You may have already received a survey/attestation from your Fiscal Intermediary asking how you wish to proceed.
YOU ARE NOT OBLIGATED TO DO ANYTHING REGARDING COLA FOR STAFF OR SUPPORT BROKERS. ITS ALL ABOUT CHOICE.
EVERYONE'S BUDGET/PRA IS DIFFERENT.
CHECK WITH YOUR BROKER TO SEE IF THESE OPTIONS ARE FEASIBLE IN YOUR BUDGET/PRA.
SOYAN leadership together with the Independent Broker Forum of NYS have been in communication with OPWDD for clarification of the guidelines and timeframes.
This information is intended to support your ability to make a decision that best fits the needs of the Self-Direction participant and the utilization of their PRA (Budget).
Note that approving the retroactive 2022 COLA (5.4%) increase for your Self-Hired staff and Support Broker covering the period since April 1, 2022 will be at NO cost to your self-direction budget. However, it is not meant to be a one-shot bonus for staff or Support Brokers.
The retroactive increase must be supported by a commitment to carry the 5.4% increase as a Rate Cap for Support Brokers and as an increase to your ongoing Self-Hired Staff Rates (of at least 5.4% and up to the FI approved rate). You will of course have to stay within your PRA, and should be working with your Support Broker on your budget update. As you are likely aware, budget PRAs were increased by 5.4% with the 2022 template and another 4% with the just released 2023 template that your Support Brokers are all using now.
If you have already granted at least a 5.4% raise to staff since April 1, 2022, then you do NOT have to provide another wage increase in order for the staff member to qualify for the retroactive payment. You may increase more than 5.4%, or do another increase with the current 2023 budget, but you do not have to.
If you want your staff and Support Broker to be able to benefit from this retroactive payment, you MUST return the 2 separate attestation/surveys you received to your FI – most FIs have set a deadline of July 15. Some earlier, and some a bit later.
OPWDD will not approve any retroactive payments if the signed survey/attestation is not returned timely.
If you are approving the increased Rate Cap for your Support Broker, a signed Broker Agreement and a new budget amendment must also be signed within the deadline period. Please keep in mind that Support Brokers have not received a COLA or any other increase since the beginning of Self-Direction (that’s over 20 years).
This is a frantic, rushed time for all of us! Support Brokers and FIs are working full steam to try to help make this happen.
If you have questions, we suggest you share this information and the information contained in the SOYAN/IBFNYS COLA summary-interpretation with your Support Broker for further clarification so you can make an informed decision.
It is our intention to support and empower you to make informed decisions that are critical to the wages of our dedicated self-hired Staff and Support Brokers.