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 myBenefits.ny.gov. 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 myBenefits.ny.gov 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 myBenefits.ny.gov 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 http://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/eligible-food-items/.

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 was 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.  Accordingly, social services districts that did not qualify for county based ABAWD waivers were required to implement ABAWD requirements effective January 2016.  ABAWD rules are required by the federal government.

Based on the federal waiver approved by USDA for calendar year 2017, there are a total of 22 counties in New York State (19 counties outside of New York City/ 3 counties within NYC) who are approved to continue to waive ABAWD rules and 10 other counties that are approved to waive ABAWD requirements for individuals who live in a waived area of the county, such as a city or a town. There are also 5 Community Districts in New York City with an ABAWD waiver for calendar year 2017. 

The following counties have an ABAWD waiver for calendar year 2017:

  • Bronx County
  • Broome County
  • Clinton County
  • Delaware County
  • Essex County
  • Franklin County
  • Fulton County
  • Greene County
  • Hamilton County
  • Herkimer County
  • Jefferson County
  • Kings County
  • Lewis County
  • Montgomery County
  • Orleans County
  • Oswego County
  • Richmond County
  • St. Lawrence County
  • Schoharie County
  • Schuyler County
  • Steuben County
  • Sullivan County

In addition to the counties above, the following cities/towns also have a federally approved ABAWD waiver for calendar year 2017:

  • City of Buffalo
  • City of Elmira
  • City of Jamestown
  • City of Lockport
  • City of Niagara Falls
  • City of Rochester
  • City of Syracuse
  • City of Utica
  • Town of Gates
  • Town of Irondequoit
  • Town of Tonawanda

Further, the following Community Districts within New York City also have a federally approved ABAWD waiver for calendar year 2017:

  • Manhattan Community Districts 9, 10, 11 and 12

Manhattan Community Districts 9, 10, 11 and 12 comprise an area in Manhattan above West 110th Street and above East 96th Street.

  • Queens Community District 12

Queens Community District 12 is the area of Queens County that is south of Hillside Avenue and north of Belt Parkway, and between Van Wyck Expressway (on the west) and Francis Lewis Boulevard and Springfield Boulevard (on the east). 

Who is Not Subject to ABAWD requirements?

A SNAP recipient who meets any of the following conditions is not subject to ABAWD work requirements; but, in some instances may still be required to participate in work activities that are assigned under public assistance and/or SNAP employment and training:

  • 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 full-time caretaker of an incapacitated person
  • A pregnant woman
  • Physically or mentally unable to work at least 80 hours a month
  • Determined to be unable to work due to substance abuse
  • A recipient of Veterans Affairs (VA) disability compensation
  • A recipient of disability benefits from a public or private source, such as Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or NYS disability benefits
  • 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)

Note: Only the individual who meets one or more of the conditions listed above would be exempt from the ABAWD requirement. Other ABAWDs in the SNAP household would still be required to comply with the ABAWD requirement to maintain SNAP eligibility for more than 3 months in the 36-month period.

What is an ABAWD required to do?

To maintain eligibility for SNAP benefits for more than three months in the 36-month period that started January 1, 2016, an ABAWD must complete and document participation in one of the following each month:

  • Work (including “in-kind” work and volunteer work) for at least 80 hours a month;
  • Participate in a qualifying work/training program approved by the social services district for at least 80 hours a month;
  • Comply with a Work Experience Program (WEP) assignment for the number of hours per month equal to the SNAP grant divided by the higher of the federal or State minimum wage.
  • Participate in a program under the Workforce Innovation and 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
  • Participate in a combination of work or qualifying work programs for at least 80 hours a month.

Note: The work requirements listed above apply to each ABAWD in the SNAP household.

What if an ABAWD is not working and not otherwise meeting the required hours of participation each month?

Failure to comply with these requirements without good cause may result in the ABAWD being ineligible for SNAP benefits. If the ABAWD is meeting any of the requirements listed above, the individual should immediately contact the social services district. It is the ABAWD’s responsibility to do so. Good cause includes temporary illness that prevents the individual from working at least 80 hours a month or another situation that is beyond the individual’s control. An individual may also receive SNAP benefits beyond the 3 month limit, if he/she documents that he/she is exempt from the ABAWD requirement. Individuals who believe that they should be exempt from the ABAWD requirement for one of the reasons listed in the response to the question “Who is Not Subject to ABAWD requirements?” provided above should immediately contact the social services district and provide documentation of the exemption.

What should I do if I am an ABAWD and have not reported that I am working or participating in work activities?

ABAWDs who are working or participating in an activity listed above and have not already notified the social services district, should immediately contact the social services district to get information about the documentation that will need to be provided. Again, it is the ABAWD’s responsibility to do so. If the individual is not participating for the minimum number of hours per month, the ABAWD should request an additional ABAWD qualifying activity to support his/her ability to receive SNAP benefits for more than three months in the 36 month period. An ABAWD is also required to report to the social services district if his/her hours of work or work activity fall below 80 hours for a month within 10 days after the end of that month and will be required to provide documentation of the change.

If an ABAWD fails to meet the work requirements and loses eligibility for SNAP, he/she may again be able to receive prospective SNAP benefits, 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 again be able to receive prospective SNAP benefits, if otherwise eligible.

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. It is the ABAWD’s responsibility to do so.  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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