Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

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Frequently Asked Questions

Answers to many commonly asked questions about the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), can be found in this section. Click on each of the questions below to learn more about SNAP.

How can I find out where to apply for SNAP?

Probably, the quickest way is to apply for SNAP online at After your application is filed, the SNAP office will review your information, conduct an interview, and determine your household's eligibility for SNAP.

You may also apply in person, by mail, or fax. To find the address and phone number of the SNAP office nearest you, call the toll-free New York State Temporary Assistance Hotline at 1-800-342-3009. By following the prompts on the automated caller response system, you can find the address and phone number of the SNAP office for where you live.

You can also choose the option to speak to an operator, and they will give you the information about the SNAP office for where you live. You may also find a listing for your county Department of Social Services in the blue pages of government office listings in your phone book. If you live in New York City, you should look for the listings of the Human Resources Administration. You may also visit the following websites: Local Departments of Social Services or New York City SNAP Centers.

In many locations throughout New York State, there are community organizations that can help you get and complete an application for the SNAP Program. Most of these organizations can also screen you to see if you might be eligible. For a list of these organizations visit the Nutritional Outreach Educational Providers website. The current SNAP/Food Stamp Application is also available from this site in English, Arabic, Chinese, Haitian/Creole, Korean, Russian and Spanish.

How do I go about getting SNAP?

If you want to find out if you may be eligible to receive SNAP, visit and click on Am I Eligible? to use the SNAP pre-screening eligibility tool. Please note: This pre-screening tool is not an application for SNAP.

In order to apply for SNAP, you need to file an electronic or paper application with your local county Department of Social Services, or, if you live in one of the five boroughs of New York City, with your local SNAP Center.

If you decide to submit a paper application, the SNAP office must give you an application form on the same day you ask for one. The office also must accept and register your application on the same day you turn it in.

You may submit, and the SNAP office must accept, your application as long as you have filled in your name, address and telephone number (if you have one) and signed the application. However, you should try to provide as much information as you can. Whatever information you cannot provide, a SNAP worker can help you complete at your eligibility interview.

You may have a complete eligibility interview done on the same day you file your application, or you may be asked to come back another day for a complete interview. If you qualify for SNAP, you must get them no later than 30 days from the date the office got your application.

Can an application be mailed to me?

Yes, to request a mailed application you should call or write your local Department of Social Services office or, in New York City, your local SNAP Center.

Also, you may download and print a SNAP application from this website or ask that someone pick one up for you from your local County Department of Social Service office or center.

How can I know if I might be eligible for SNAP?

To find out if you may be eligible for SNAP Benefits, visit and click on Am I Eligible? to use the SNAP pre-screening eligibility tool. Please note: The pre-screening tool is not an application for SNAP. The tool will look at the information you provided to see if you might be able to get help with buying food and other services. You'll have to apply for the programs listed to get a final decision about benefits, and information will be provided to let you know how to do that. Keep in mind that you always have the right to apply for these benefits.

In New York State, the SNAP Program now allows you to have more money in a checking or savings account, or even a retirement account, without affecting your eligibility for SNAP benefits. As of January 1, 2008, most households applying for SNAP benefits no longer have to pass a savings/resource test in order to get SNAP benefits. This means having money in a savings, checking or retirement account, or having other resources, will not keep you from being eligible for SNAP benefits, as long as you meet the income guidelines.

I hear about some people getting SNAP right away, or within a few days of applying. How is that possible?

Even if the SNAP office cannot do a complete eligibility interview for you on the same day you file your application, you at least must be screened to see if you qualify for what is called "expedited" consideration.

If your household has little or no money and needs help right away, you may qualify for "expedited" SNAP. If you do, you must receive your initial SNAP benefit within five days. You will still have to complete the eligibility process, and supply all the required documentation at a later date.

As a non-citizen, can I get SNAP benefits?

Many non-citizens may be eligible for SNAP benefits if they are one of the following:

  • Refugees, Cuban/Haitian Entrants, Asylees, Amerasian immigrants, individuals with deportation or removal withheld, Hmong or Highland Laotians, victims of human trafficking, parolees for at least one year, conditional entrants, North American Indians born in Canada and members of federally recognized tribes;
  • Honorably discharged U.S. veteran, the spouse and unmarried dependent children;
  • Aliens on active duty in the U.S. military service, the spouse and unmarried dependent children;
  • Aliens paroled into the U.S. for at least one year;
  • Certain battered immigrants and their children or parents; and
  • Legal Permanent Resident (LPR) in the U.S. for 5 years
  • LPR with certain disability benefits
  • LPR with 40 qualifying quarters
  • LPR under age 18

Can students get SNAP?

Most able-bodied students ages 18 through 49 who are enrolled at least half-time in college or other institution of higher education are not eligible for SNAP. However, students may be able to get SNAP, if otherwise eligible, if they:

  • Receive public assistance benefits under a Title IV-A program, or
  • Take part in a state or federally-financed work study program; or
  • Work on average 20 hours per week.

Single parents enrolled full time in college and taking care of a dependent household member under the age of 12 can get SNAP, if otherwise eligible. Students also may be able to get SNAP, if otherwise eligible, if they are taking care of a dependent household member under the age of 6, or if they are taking care of a dependent household member age 6 through 11 and do not have adequate child care to enable them to attend school and work a minimum of 20 hours per week, or take part in a state or federally-financed work study program.

Students who are assigned to or placed in college or certain other schools as part of certain job or employment training programs may also be eligible for SNAP.

What can I purchase with SNAP?

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), has strict rules and regulations in place regarding the use of SNAP benefits. Allowable food purchases are very specific.

A detailed list of items that may be purchased with SNAP benefits can be found at

Households CAN use SNAP benefits to buy:

Foods for the household to eat, such as, but not limited to:

  • Breads and cereals
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Meats, fish and poultry
  • Dairy products
  • Seeds and plants which produce food for the household to eat

Households CANNOT use SNAP benefits to buy:

  • Beer, wine, liquor, cigarettes or tobacco
  • Any nonfood items, such as:
    • Pet foods
    • Soaps, paper products
    • Household supplies
    • Vitamins and medicines
    • Food that will be eaten in the store
    • Hot foods

What do I do if I am no longer in need of SNAP benefits and want to close my SNAP case?

If you would like to close your SNAP case, you must contact your local Department of Social Services. Please note at this time you cannot request your case closed online.

What do I do if my financial circumstances change?

Changes in household circumstances which occur during the SNAP certification period may need to be reported depending on the reporting rules that apply to your household. Please refer to SUPPLEMENTAL NUTRITION ASSISTANCE PROGRAM (SNAP) CHANGE REPORT FORM for information about the change reporting rules that apply to your household or contact your local Department of Social Services if you have further questions.

For more information and where to apply, call 1-800-342-3009, or if in NYC call 1-877-472-8411 or 311. For more information, visit NYC Human Resources Administration.

Why is New York required to implement Able Bodied Adults without Dependents (ABAWD) requirements in January 2016?

New York’s statewide ABAWD waiver expired on December 31, 2015. Social services districts that do not qualify for county based ABAWD waivers are required to implement ABAWD requirements effective January 2016. ABAWD rules are required by the federal government.

Based on the waiver approved by USDA for calendar year 2016, there are 16 counties outside of New York City approved to continue to waive ABAWD rules and 9 other counties that are approved to waive ABAWD requirements for individuals who live in a waived area of the county, such as a city. New York City qualified for a waiver for all areas other than lower Manhattan. In addition: the following counties are waived:

  • Clinton
  • Delaware
  • Essex
  • Franklin
  • Fulton
  • Greene
  • Hamilton
  • Herkimer
  • Jefferson
  • Lewis
  • Montgomery
  • Orleans
  • Oswego
  • St. Lawrence
  • Schoharie
  • Sullivan

The following cities are waived:

  • Binghamton
  • Buffalo
  • Elmira
  • Jamestown
  • Lockport
  • Niagara Falls
  • Rochester
  • Syracuse
  • Utica

Who is subject to ABAWD requirements?

An ABAWD is someone who is not otherwise exempt from SNAP work requirements and:

  • Between 18 and 50 years of age;
  • Does not reside in a SNAP household that includes a child under 18 years of age;
  • Not pregnant;
  • Medically able to work in competitive employment at least 80 hours a month.

What is an ABAWD required to do?

An ABAWD is limited to receiving three months of SNAP benefits during a 36-month period and may only receive additional months of SNAP benefits if he or she documents for each month that he/she completes one of the following:

  • Works (including “in-kind” work and volunteer work) for at least 80 hours a month;
  • Participates in a qualifying work/training program approved by the social services district for at least 80 hours a month;
  • Complies with a Work Experience Program (WEP) assignment for the number of hours equal to the SNAP grant divided by the higher of the federal or State minimum wage. This assignment would typically be about 21 hours a month for one individual;
  • Participates in a program under the Workforce Investment Opportunity Act or Trade Act which may include job search, job readiness, occupational skills training and education activities for at least 80 hours a month; or
  • Participates in a combination of work or qualifying work programs for at least 80 hours a month.

Failure to comply with these requirements without good cause may result in the loss of SNAP benefits. If the ABAWD is meeting any of the requirements listed above, the individual should contact their Local Department of Social Services to provide this information.

The three year period in New York is currently January 1, 2016 through December 31, 2018.

If an ABAWD fails to meet the work requirements and loses eligibility for SNAP, he/she may be able to receive SNAP again, if otherwise eligible, by complying with the ABAWD work requirements. The individual should contact the social services district to discuss what he/she needs to do to regain SNAP eligibility.

Additionally, if a person becomes exempt from ABAWD work requirements, he/she may be able to receive SNAP again, if otherwise eligible.

What if someone is receiving SNAP and thinks he or she should be exempt from ABAWD work requirements?

A SNAP recipient who receives a notice of ABAWD work requirements or who is uncertain of his or her status and wants to document that he or she is not an ABAWD, should contact their Local Department of Social Services. If an individual meets any of the following conditions, he or she is not subject to ABAWD work requirements:

  • A person under 18 years of age, or 50 years of age or older
  • An adult in a SNAP household with a child under 18 years of age
  • A caretaker of an incapacitated person
  • A pregnant woman
  • Physically or mentally unable to work 80 hours a month
  • Participating in a drug/alcohol treatment or rehabilitation program and deemed unable to work
  • A recipient or pending receipt of Unemployment Insurance Benefits (UIB)
  • A student enrolled in any recognized school, job skills training, or institution of higher education at least half-time and meeting the student eligibility criteria to receive SNAP
  • An applicant for SNAP benefits and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) jointly or in receipt of SSI
  • Employed or self-employed and working at least 30 hours per week or receiving weekly earnings at least equal to the federal minimum wage times 30 (currently $217.50 per week)

What should an ABAWD do to maintain SNAP if not employed at least 20 hours a week?

If the ABAWD is not participating in work or qualifying work/training activities and he/she wants to continue to receive SNAP beyond the three-month time limit, he/she should contact their local Department of Social Services to ask for help enrolling in a qualifying activity. The social services district will help the individual by offering the ability to engage in an activity that will meet the ABAWD work requirement.

The ABAWD must provide documentation of participation in unpaid work activities each month and report to the social services district within 10 days after the end of the month if work hours go below 80 hours a month.

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