OTDA Home Programs & Services Temporary Assistance

Temporary Assistance

Temporary Assistance (TA) is temporary help for needy men, women and children. If you are unable to work, can’t find a job, or your job does not pay enough, TA may be able to help you pay for your expenses.

Learn about Temporary Assistance from the topics below:

What are the two major Temporary Assistance programs?

Family Assistance (FA)

Family Assistance (FA) provides cash assistance to eligible needy families that include a minor child living with a parent (including families where both parents are in the household) or a caretaker relative. FA operates under federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) guidelines.

Under FA, eligible adults are limited to receiving benefits for a total of 60 months in their lifetime, including months of TANF-funded assistance granted in other states. Once this limit is reached, that adult and all members of his or her FA household are ineligible to receive any more FA benefits. The months need not be consecutive, but rather each individual month in which TANF-funded benefits are received is included in the lifetime count.

Parents and other adult relatives receiving FA, and who are determined to be able to work must comply with federal work requirements to receive FA benefits.

As a further condition of FA eligibility, each person who applies for or is receiving FA, is required to cooperate with state and local department of social services in efforts to locate any absent parent and obtain support payments and other payments or property. Non-cooperation without good cause could result in lower FA benefits.

Safety Net Assistance (SNA)

If you are not eligible for other assistance programs, you may be eligible for SNA. SNA is for:

Recipients of SNA, who are determined to be able to work must also comply with work requirements to receive SNA benefits.

Generally, you can receive cash SNA for a maximum of two years in a lifetime. After that, if you are eligible for SNA, it is provided in non-cash form, such as a two party check or a voucher. In addition, non-cash SNA is provided for:

Is there a limit on how long I can get TANF-Funded Temporary Assistance?

There is a 60-month limit on the receipt of Family Assistance benefits funded under the federal TANF program (the former Aid to Families with Dependent Children (ADC) program), some Safety Net Assistance (SNA) or the Child Assistance Program (CAP). Additionally, a payment for regular maintenance needs under the Emergency Assistance to Families with Children (EAF) for the month of December 1996, or any month thereafter, are included in the 60-month count. Participants in CAP are also restricted to the 60-month lifetime limit.

Additionally, cash Temporary Assistance in New York State is limited to a cumulative period of 60 months for any adult. No cash assistance (FA or SNA) benefit is granted to a family that contains an adult who has received a combined total of 60-month benefits under FA or cash SNA.

What is an Emergency?

An emergency is an urgent need or situation that has to be taken care of right away. Some examples of an emergency are:

If you and/or your family are experiencing an emergency situation you may be eligible for emergency assistance. Some examples of emergency assistance include, but are not limited to:

Payments may be authorized once you are determined to be eligible for one of the following emergency programs:

EAA - Emergency Assistance to Adults provides assistance for individuals and couples who have been determined eligible or are receiving SSI (Supplemental Security Income)

EAF - Emergency Assistance to Needy Families provides assistance to meet the temporary needs of pregnant women and families with at least one child under age 18, or under age 19 and regularly attending full time secondary school.

ESNA - Emergency Safety Net Assistance provides assistance to single adults and childless couples.

Note: Aliens who do not have documents that permit them to reside legally in the US are eligible only for certain kinds of emergency benefits.

You DO NOT have to be eligible for ongoing Temporary Assistance to receive Emergency Assistance.

How Do I Apply for Temporary Assistance?

To find out if you are eligible to receive Temporary Assistance, including help with an emergency, you need to file an application with your county Department of Social Services or, if you live in one of the five boroughs of New York City, with your local Job Center.

You can find the location of your local Department of Social Services online, or by calling the toll-free New York State Temporary Assistance Hotline at 1-800-342-3009.

You must fill out the application form and file it at your local department of Social Services. You should identify any emergency needs you may have at this time. If you have an emergency, you will be interviewed and told in writing about the decision on your emergency the same day you apply.

For Temporary Assistance, your interview should be within seven working days of your filing an application. You should be told within 30 days of the date you filed your application if your application for Family Assistance is approved or denied; be told within 45 days of the date you filed your application for Safety Net Assistance if your application is approved or denied.

What Proof Will I Need to Provide to My Worker?

When you are applying for, or getting, help for yourself or for someone else, you will be asked to provide proof of certain things, such as those listed below. Your worker will tell you which of these things you must provide. If you bring proof with you when you first come in to apply for assistance, you may be able to get help sooner.

If you drop documentation off at your local department of social services, you should ask for a receipt to prove what documentation you left. The receipt should have your name, the specific documentation that you dropped off, the time, date, county name and the name of the social services worker who provided the receipt.

If you cannot get the proof you need, ask your worker to help you. If the local department of social services already has proof of the things that do not change, such as your social security number, you do not need to provide them again.

What Proof Will I Need to Provide to My Worker
What You May Be Asked To Prove Examples of How to Prove It
Who You Are Photo ID, driver’s license, U.S. passport
Age of Each Applying Household Member Birth or baptismal certificate, hospital records, driver’s license
Where You Live Current rent receipt, mortgage records, statement from landlord
Household Composition/Size Statement from non-relative landlord , school records
Shelter Expenses Current rent receipt, current lease, mortgage records, property and school bills, telephone bills, tax records, sewer and water bills, fuel bills, utility bills
Social Security Numbers Social Security Card, official correspondence from SSA
Absent Parent Information Pay stubs, tax returns, Social security or VA records, monetary determination letters
Citizen or Current Alien Status Birth certificate, U. S. passport, military service records, naturalization certificate, and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services documentation
Whether you are Drug/Alcohol Dependent Alcohol/drug screening and assessment which may include a drug test
Earned Income Current pay stubs, statement from employer, tax records, business records, statement from roomer or boarder of amount paid for lodging
Child Support or Alimony Statement from Court, statement from person paying support
Social Security Benefits Current benefit check or current award letter
Veteran’s Benefits Current benefit check, current award letter, official correspondence from U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
Unemployment Insurance Benefits Official correspondence from New York State Department of Labor
Interest and Dividends Statement from bank, credit union or broker
Educational Grants and Loans Statement from school or bank, current award letter
Worker’s Compensation Current award letter or check stub
Bank Accounts Bank records or credit union records
Checking Accounts Bank statements
Burial Trust or Fund Bank statement or copy of burial agreement
Burial Plot or Agreement Statement from cemetery or funeral director, copy of burial plot deed
Life Insurance Insurance policy
Real Estate Other Than Where You Live Deed, appraisal/estimate of current value by real estate broker
Motor Vehicle Registration, title of ownership, financing information
Stocks and Bonds Stock certificates, bonds
School Attendance of Those Attending School School records, statement from school
Health Insurance Insurance policy, insurance card, statement from provider of coverage, Medicare card
Unpaid Rent or Utilities Copy of each bill, statement from landlord or utility company
Paid or Unpaid Medical Bills Copy of each bill and proof of payment if a paid bill
Noncustodial Parent Death certificate, survivor’s benefits, divorce papers, veteran’s assistance or military records
Disabled/Incapacitated/Pregnant Statement from medical professional, proof of Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits
Other Expenses/Dependent Care Expenses Cancelled checks or receipts, statement from child care provider, court order, statement from aide or attendant

The documents listed above are the most commonly used. This list is not complete because there are other documents you can use.

Note: For most sources of income, Temporary Assistance workers must calculate your ongoing benefits using “gross” levels of earned income and unearned income, rather than what you may actually take home after mandatory or voluntary deductions or adjustments.

Sometimes your worker will ask you to explore the use of “community resources,” which may include your parents, other family members, friends, religious organizations, social organizations where you live, etc., that may meet your need or needs in lieu of, or in addition to, Temporary Assistance. If it is determined that these resources are available to you, you must explore and make use of all them to help meet your needs, including emergency needs, as a condition of eligibility for Temporary Assistance, or provide your worker with good cause for not doing so.

Nondiscrimination Statement

Discrimination by the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) or by your local department of social services based on race religion, ethnic background, marital status, disability, sex, national origin, political belief or age is illegal.

If you think you have been discriminated against in a Temporary Assistance program, which includes Family Assistance and Safety Net Assistance, or that your case has been handled improperly due to some type of discrimination, you can file a complaint of discrimination, by writing to the Bureau of Equal Opportunity Development, NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, 40 N Pearl Street 16D, Albany, NY 12243-0001 or calling 518-473-8555.

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