Benefit Development Resource Toolkit: SNAP

SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program)

SNAP is a federally-funded program designed to relieve nation-wide hunger and malnutrition among low-income households by providing them with a monthly supplemental monetary benefit to be used for food purchases. In New York State, SNAP is administered by the Office for Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA).

Throughout the following sections, links to various websites are provided for reference. Please note that website addresses change frequently and, while the addresses provided were accurate as of the issuance of this Toolkit, if you are unable to access any of the web pages through the links, please refer to the main USDA Food and Nutrition website at www.fns.usda.gov/snap and navigate to the information you are seeking.

SNAP Eligibility

An OPWDD served individual may be eligible for SNAP benefits if they are blind or disabled and in receipt of a disability benefit from a federal or state-administered program. They must be a citizen of the United States or a documented immigrant meeting specified criteria. The individual must also have a Social Security Number and cannot have gross monthly income that exceeds the applicable limits for the program.

The gross monthly income limit for households with an elderly or disabled member changes every October. The most recent eligibility guidelines can be found at: https://otda.ny.gov/programs/snap/#eligibility.  Individuals with disabilities who are income-eligible may not need to have their resources considered in the application process. There is no age restriction to apply; however, whether an individual can apply by him/herself or must apply with parents or other household member(s) will depend on the individual’s living situation. To find more information on SNAP eligibility, please refer to the OTDA website at  https://otda.ny.gov/programs/snap/#overview

How and Where to Apply for SNAP

To apply for SNAP, an individual or their representative must file an application with their local Social Services district. Additionally, SNAP applications will be accepted by the local Social Security office when the individual is applying for SSI benefits.

The SNAP Benefits Application (LDSS- 4826) can be found at http://otda.ny.gov/programs/applications/4826.pdf . The publication LDSS-4826-A, How to Complete the SNAP Benefits Application/Recertification, provides assistance for completion of the application and can be found at http://otda.ny.gov/programs/applications/4826A.pdf.

The NYS Office for the Aging prepared a video tutorial to explain how to complete a SNAP application. This may be helpful for individuals NOT residing in a certified setting and can be found at https://aging.ny.gov/apply-for-benefits.

 

 

 

Documentation

While each SNAP office has its own procedures, applicants are always required to verify their eligibility. Please refer to the NYC Eligibility Documentation Guide for more information. The examples of documentation are applicable statewide. The NYC guide can be found at: https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/hra/downloads/pdf/benefits/eligibility_factors_and_suggested_documentation_guide.pdf

Authorized Representatives

Individuals who are not capable of purchasing their own food must have an Authorized Representative (AR) to redeem their SNAP benefits. Each agency applying for SNAP for individuals in their residences should have a policy as to who will be the Authorized Representative.   

Each AR will receive an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card to access recipientsSNAP benefits. The EBT card will be mailed to the AR and will have its own unique Personal Identification Number (PIN) which will be mailed separately. When the AR receives the card and the PIN, they can use the PIN that is provided or change it by calling the customer service phone number on the back side of the card.

SNAP Recertification

One year is the usual certification period for SNAP recipients; however, each district may elect to extend the certification period to 24 months for any elderly or disabled individual who has no earned income. Elderly or disabled individuals with earned income may only be certified for up to 12 months. Near the end of the certification period, a SNAP recertification form will be sent to the individual/AR for completion.

All SNAP districts participate in telephone recertifications.  Districts should mail a recertification packet to the individual/AR with a scheduled date and time for a telephone interview. If the individual has submitted a signed application and misses a scheduled telephone interview, a Request for Contact/Missed Interview will be sent to reschedule the telephone interview, see: http://otda.ny.gov/policy/directives/2003/INF/03-INF-13-LDSS47531-03version.pdf (box #3). During the telephone interview, questions will be asked based on the SNAP application.

The SNAP program requires the recipient or AR to report certain changes to the local district. Some of the changes that need to be reported are change of address, change in source of income or amount of income and change in resources. The timeframes for reporting changes are determined by the type of income received. Most changes must be reported within 10 days after the end of the month in which the change(s) occurred. For more information on reporting changes, please refer to the “Frequently Asked Questions” section on the OTDA website at https://otda.ny.gov/programs/snap/qanda.asp.

 

HEAP (Home Energy Assistance Program)

HEAP is a federally-funded energy program intended to assist low-income households in meeting their immediate home energy needs, as this can impact individuals’ health. OTDA administers HEAP through the local Social Services districts throughout New York State.  Each district conducts eligibility determinations for HEAP in accordance with federal laws, NYS regulations and policy documents. Information regarding HEAP can be found under Programs and Services at  http://otda.ny.gov/programs/heap/.

Eligible individuals residing in government subsidized housing or a group home setting with heat included in their rent may receive one $21 nominal HEAP benefit per year. This HEAP benefit is only provided to SNAP households that have fully-established eligibility for ongoing SNAP benefits and meet all the HEAP eligibility criteria.

Households that do not receive a $21 nominal HEAP benefit through their SNAP application or the HEAP autopay process may apply for a Regular HEAP benefit at http://otda.ny.gov/programs/heap/ during the open heating season, which normally runs from November through April (or until funding allocated to this component is exhausted), or submit a paper HEAP application (LDSS-3421) by mail, fax, or in person at the Local Department of Social Services. This cash benefit is issued by the local Social Services districts and will be expunged in 90 days of issuance if not used by then. Agencies acting as Authorized Representatives cannot retain any individual’s HEAP benefits. They must ensure the benefits are given directly to the individuals. Agencies should keep records of receipt and distribution of HEAP benefits and retain those records for a minimum of six years for auditing purposes.