The scope of New York Secure Choice, the program through which the Empire State provides coverage to private-sector employees whose employers do not, has been expanded to include single proprietors.
New York Gov. Kathy Holchul (D) signed S 2399 into law on Jan. 26, 2024. Sen. Andrew Gounard (D-Brooklyn), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Budget and Revenue, introduced the bill one year earlier; the Committee on Consumer Protection discharged it on June 1, 2023 and the Senate passed it five days later, and on June 8 the New York Assembly followed suit. It was not delivered to the governor until Dec. 27; she signed it one month later.
It’s not the first time the program has been expanded. The program was established in 2015 by the New York State Secure Choice Savings Program Act and went into operation in 2018. In October 2021, Hochul signed into law a measure that made it mandatory for employers that do not offer a retirement plan and employ 10 or more employees to participate.
The latest expansion adds language to the law establishing the program that now says “participating individual” means any individual who is 18 years of age or older and has New York taxable income within a calendar year, who enrolls in the program independent of an employment relationship with an eligible employer, maintains an account in the program, and is not a participating employee. It also changes the wording referring to “participating employee” to “participating individual.”
Before the program begins enrolling participating individuals, the New York Secure Choice Savings Program Board is to design and make publicly available informational materials which is to include:
- background information on the program;
- how to participate as a participating individual;
- information on the benefits and risks associated with making contributions to the program;
- the process for making contributions;
- the contribution levels they may contribute;
- the process for withdrawal of retirement savings; and
- the process for selecting beneficiaries.
The measure went into effect immediately upon enactment, so freelancers can participate now.