OCEAN COUNTY – Senior citizens that receive the state’s Senior Freeze Program reimbursement shouldn’t have to start from scratch to meet program residency requirements if they relocate in another area of the state, officials said.
Ocean County Commissioner Joseph H. Vicari, Chairman of the Ocean County Office of Senior Services, noted that the eligibility requirements for the Senior Freeze Program require home ownership within a residence for three years and continued residency in the state for a period of 10 years.
“That three-year time clock is reset and starts all over again if a senior should move to a different home in the state. That should not be the case,” he added.
Commissioner Vicari added, “this program provides important property tax relief to our seniors, disabled and our most vulnerable residents. So long as the person stays within the state of New Jersey, there is no need to make them meet the three-year requirement again if they have already done so.”
The Property Tax Reimbursement Program, also known as the Senior Freeze Program is designed to protect eligible senior citizens and disabled persons from escalating property taxes by locking in a fixed base property tax amount, paying the difference between that locked in amount and the increased amount when a tax increase is imposed.
“Having to wait the three-years again to establish a residence is unfair if a resident was already a participant in the program prior to moving. This program provides important financial relief for many people already on fixed incomes. Our residents should not be penalized for moving so long as they meet all of the other eligibility requirements,” he added.
Vicari said lawmakers in Ocean County’s 9th, 10, and 12th state Legislative districts have co-sponsored or supported proposed state legislation that would remedy the residency requirement for this program.
“I applaud these efforts and I look forward to our residents being able to continue with this program should they move within the state,” Vicari added.
Ocean County has more than 200,000 senior citizens and nearly 160,000 homeowners across the state received senior-freeze reimbursements during the 2021 fiscal year, ranging on average from $196 for new recipients to $1,348 for longer-term enrollees, according to state budget documents.
Director of the Ocean County Board of Commissioners John P. Kelly said, “as prices on every day essentials like gas and food continue to climb, we need to make certain our seniors and disabled can access programs available to them that will help keep some costs stable.”