Support SB 1975: Disability Homestead Exemption Amendment


May 6, 2021 | by Amber Smock

Support SB 1975: Disability Homestead Exemption Amendment

Automatic renewal means one less hurdle for people with disabilities

Sen. Laura Fine – Dale Fowler – Melinda Bush, Brian W. Stewart, Dan McConchie, Terri Bryant, Julie A. Morrison, Cristina H. Pacione-Zayas, Rachelle Crowe and Sara Feigenholtz

The Cook County Assessor’s Office administers the Persons with Disabilities homestead exemption. The Persons with Disabilities Exemption is available only to persons with disabilities who are unable to work. In Cook County, 18,262 taxpayers qualified for this exemption in 2019. Under current law, every one of those claimants must re-apply every year, meaning paperwork and administrative effort each and every year. SB1975 would extend automatic renewals under prescribed conditions in Cook County upon passage for a pilot period. Other counties would have the ability to opt-in as they determine that they have the administrative capacity to oversee multi-year renewals.

“For many, this exemption is the difference between keeping their home or going into foreclosure.”

Cathleen O’Brien, Access Living

The disability community is disproportionately low-income, unemployed, or underemployed. On average, homeowners with disabilities dedicate 30-50% of their income to maintaining their home. In addition, they are more likely to have higher out-of- pocket medical expenses. The Persons with Disabilities exemption helps people with disabilities reside in their own homes.

Prior to the pandemic, the Persons with Disabilities homestead exemption was given on an annual basis. Applicants must submit annual proof of disability through documentation from a doctor, Social Security Administration, or by presenting a Class 2 Persons with Disabilities ID card from the Secretary of State. Disabilities that impair the ability to work outside the home commonly last for many years and, indeed, the Secretary of State by statute issues Class 2 Persons with Disabilities IDs for a term of 8-10 years, depending on whether the card is also a Real ID or not.

Under SB1975 as amended, assessors who use a process at least as strict as that used by the Secretary of State to issue multi-year Persons with Disabilities IDs will be able to auto-renew this homestead exemption during the pilot period, without making applicants re-submit proof of disability.

People with disabilities often have to go through extra steps in order to receive disability-related benefits. Passing SB1975 will remove the need for reapplication by automatically renewing the homestead exemption during a pilot program to those who applied and present appropriate documentation. By renewing the exemption automatically thousands of disabled people will no longer have to jump through a needless hurdle of re-certifying that they are still disabled.

Access Living and the Cook County Assessor’s Office ask for your YES vote on SB1975.