OTDA Home Programs & Services SNAP SNAP Outreach Material

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, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, and Russian.

How do I go about getting SNAP?

First, if you want to find out if you may be eligible to receive SNAP, you may want to use the SNAP pre-screening tool myBenefits.ny.gov. 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 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 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:

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:

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:

Households CANNOT use SNAP benefits to buy:

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.

This page contains links to PDF documents. Download Acrobat Reader to view these documents.