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TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Nellie Pou and Senator Loretta Weinberg to increase the personal needs allowance to at least $50 for low-income residents in certain facilities cleared the Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee yesterday.

The bill, S-843, would increase the income to a minimum of $50, as a monthly personal needs allowance (PNA) which may be provided to persons who reside in nursing facilities, State or county psychiatric hospitals, and State developmental centers and who are eligible for Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.  Currently, the rate provided to these individuals is $35.

The PNA is used for purchasing personal items such as clothing, grooming aids, newspapers, and other items that are not regularly provided by the facility in which the person resides.

“The fact that $35 has been the rate for almost three decades shows that this is long overdue, so I am asking for support for a reasonable $15 increase in the Personal Needs Allowance, along with the cost of living increases,” said Senator Pou (D-Passaic). “This is New Jersey. We have to take action to ensure that our most vulnerable residents are able to live with dignity.”

“This assistance allows residents to purchase basic personal items, such as personal hygiene products and clothing,” said Senator Weinberg (D- Bergen).  “Other states have already done the right thing to provide additional assistance to residents under this program. It’s well past time that New Jersey did as well.”

The bill would also provide for an adjustment to be made to these amounts based on the federal cost-of-living increase.  This has been the practice for persons who reside in rooming or boarding houses and residential health care facilities.

Other states have increased their PNA over the past decade, including: Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Maryland. New York State has had a $50 rate since 2001.

S-843 cleared the committee 8-0 and now heads to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee for further consideration.