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Food Access and Programs

SNAP: Changes Under COVID-19

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Summary

Eligibility requirements for SNAP benefits remains the same. However, the application process and program requirements have been modified under COVID-19. Changes include how to apply for SNAP, elimination of the eligibility interview for certain households, a required telephone interview for other households, suspended program requirements, extended recertifications and more.

The NYC Human Resource Administration (HRA) has published many of these changes at https://www1.nyc.gov/site/hra/important-information-about-covid-19-and-your-hra-benefits.page. For HRA’s FAQ, visit: https://www1.nyc.gov/site/hra/help/dss-covid19-faqs.page.

Our free Benefits Plus SNAP Calculator, available at https://bplc.cssny.org/benefit_tools/snap_calculator can help determine the amount a household may be entitled to.

If you are a Benefits Plus subscriber, for additional information on SNAP benefits, refer to Benefits Plus, Food Programs, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). For subscription information visit: https://bplc.cssny.org/home/subscription_options.

Change in SNAP Application Procedures

APPLICATION

The application for SNAP is the LDSS-4826 which can be found at http://otda.ny.gov/programs/applications.

SNAP HOME CENTERS

Typically, SNAP applicants may visit a local SNAP home Center to apply for SNAP however, not all SNAP centers are open, for available centers go to https://www1.nyc.gov/site/hra/locations/snap-locations.page.

FAXED APPLICATIONS

Applications and documentation for SNAP can be faxed to the SNAP Mail Application & Referral Unit (MARU) at 917-639-1111.

ONLINE APPLICATIONS

For those applying for SNAP in NYC, applicants are strongly encouraged to use ACCESS HRA, http://www.nyc.gov/ACCESSHRA. ACCESS HRA is an online portal where SNAP applications may be completed and submitted. For help with creating an account and user guides, click here.

Required documentation can be submitted (uploaded) electronically via the HRA Mobile app found on Apple Store or Google Play.

Community Based SNAP Representatives

Other individuals, such as family, friends or community-based personnel, may assist households applying for SNAP via ACCESS HRA. These representatives must obtain a signed copy of the SNAP Authorized Representative Request Form (LDSS-4942), which must be completed, signed and dated by both parties. Once the LDSS-4942 is completed, the advocate should create an account on behalf of the individual at http://www.nyc.gov/accesshra.

Towards the end of the application, the last screen will ask if the individual completing the application is an Authorized Representative. The advocate will complete this screen and electronically initial the application as the authorized representative, using their own initials.

Once the application is submitted, the advocate must electronically upload the LDSS-4942 using the HRA Mobile app. To log into the HRA mobile app, the same credentials used to create a login for ACCESS HRA, should be used to upload the completed LDSS-4942 form.

If this step is not completed appropriately, the application will not be able to be processed.

ACCESS HRA Training Webinars

HRA is offering training webinars on ACCESS HRA that provides guidance on the SNAP application process. These trainings are open to everyone. In addition, HRA allows CBO’s and elected officials access to a client’s case through the ACCESS HRA Provider Portal case management tool. This tool allows CBO’s to assist their clients with the application process, recertification and other challenges their clients may face. The client must grant access to the CBO to allow them to view their case.

APPLICATIONS VIA PHONE

There is a statewide waiver in place for the application signature for the SNAP application through December 31, 2020. This waiver permits local departments of social services (HRA staff in NYC) to complete applications over the phone and sign on behalf of clients who are not able to complete applications independently using ACCESS HRA.

HOMEBOUND APPLICANTS

Home Bound applicants and individuals with disabilities who cannot or do not want to use ACCESS HRA can request a home visit, which is available by calling Constituent Services at 212-331-4640 or 311. HRA staff conducting these home visits will adhere to the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s guidelines and protocols for such visits.

ELIGIBILITY INTERVIEWS

Until further notice, new SNAP applicants will not be required to be interviewed (either in-person or via the phone), if BOTH of the following conditions have been met:

  • The applicant’s identity has been verified; AND
  • All of the following mandatory information and verification has been provided and is valid:
    • Identity
    • Social Security number
    • Residency
    • Gross non-exempt income
    • Disability
    • Immigrants eligibility

If these conditions are not met, then an interview will be required. Such interviews will be conducted by phone.

Note

Until further notice, an interview is not required for issuance of expedited SNAP benefits. For applications eligible for expedited benefits, the only information that must be verified prior to the initial expedited issuance is the applicant’s identity. The federal waiver expires August 31, 2020.

RESOURCES

Center for Independence of the Disabled
https://www.cidny/nyconnects
844-862-7930

Changes in SNAP Recertification

ANNUAL RECERTIFICATION

SNAP recipients with recertification due date in March, April, May or June were given an automatic six-month extension.

The USDA approved NYC’s request for a six-month extension of the recertification period for NYC recipients whose SNAP cases will expire by July 31st, with the caveat that HRA will resume recertifications for clients with SNAP cases expiring August 31, 2020.

However, the federal government has extended the SNAP recertification waiver through August 31, 2020. However, HRA is encouraging clients with SNAP cases that are due to recertify by August 31, 2020 to do so since HRA had to open the recertification portal at the federal government’s direction and they have already processed many of the cases. However, there will be no adverse action for not doing so at this time. The recertification period began 60 days prior to the August 31 recertification deadline. Accordingly, clients with cases due for recertification on August 31, 2020 began receiving their recertification notices at the end of June.

SNAP recipients who have begun to receive recertification notices for SNAP cases due by August 31st, should submit their recertification forms through ACCESS HRA. There is no need to visit the local SNAP office. Recipients whose identity has been verified and who are able to provide the following verification forms will not be subject to an interview:

  • Identity
  • Social security number
  • Residency
  • Gross non-exempt income (earned and unearned)
  • Disability
  • Immigrant eligibility

If these conditions have not been met, the recipient will receive a phone call from HRA staff.

Signature Requirement

NYC has received an extension through December 31, 2020 for a SNAP signature waiver for applications taken over the phone by HRA staff using ACCESS HRA. This option is available for recipients who are homebound or have challenges using ACCESS HRA.

SNAP PERIODIC REPORT

There will be no negative action for SNAP recipients who do not complete a SNAP Period Report.

Changes in SNAP Program Requirements

WORK REQUIREMENTS

Districts must continue to suspend all required in-person work activity assignments until further notice.

TIME LIMITS FOR ABAWDS

SNAP offices in all NYS counties will not impose the Able-Bodied Adults without Dependents (ABAWD) 3-month time limit rule beginning April 1, 2020. As required by federal law, letters informing clients of their ABAWD status have been sent to clients. The letters are not notices of a requirement to work. In response to a request from State OTDA on June 22, 2020, the USDA has extended suspension of work requirements through September 30, 2021.

Emergency Allotments (EA) for SNAP Recipients

As authorized by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act of 2020, EA benefits will be issued automatically as supplements to those SNAP households that did not receive the maximum benefit amount for their household size for March through September 2020.

The supplement for each month will be the difference between the amount of SNAP benefits the household received for the month and the maximum benefit amount for the household’s size.

Case Example

A household size of 3 receives $209 in SNAP benefits every month. The maximum amount of SNAP a household size of 3 can receive is $509. Through the EA, this household will receive an extra $300 for the month of March and another $300 in the month of April.

Only households whose SNAP benefits for these months was less than the maximum benefit amount for their household’s size will receive the supplement. SNAP households that received the maximum benefit, are not eligible for an EA supplement.

For additional details visit: https://otda.ny.gov/SNAP-COVID-19.

Lost EBT Cards

Lost cards should be reported immediately to prevent fraudulent use. If an applicant/recipient has lost their EBT card, call 888-328-6399 to cancel the card and request a replacement by mail. Replacement by mail will take 5-7 days for households to receive their card.

If there is an emergency and recipients must obtain a replacement card on the same day, they have the option to visit an Over the Counter (OTC) site. OTC site is open from 8:30 am – 5:00 pm. To pick up a replacement card the individual must have a valid photo ID and visit the Brooklyn OTC site at 227 Schermerhorn Street – Ground Floor.

How COVID-19 Cash Aid Impacts SNAP

CORONAVIRUS ECONOMIC IMPACT PAYMENTS

The CARES Act Economic Impact payments (EIP) (up to $1,200 per individual, $500 per qualifying child) are not countable against the SNAP benefit. However, asset rules are different. Although please note that most households do not have a resource requirement for SNAP in NYS.

New SNAP Applicants

Payment(s) are excluded as a resource in the month received, and the month after. Any remaining balance would be counted as a resource in the months thereafter.

SNAP Recipients

Payments are excluded as a resource for a period of 12 months following receipt of the payments. Any remaining balance would be counted as a resource in the months thereafter.

LOST WAGES ASSISTANCE PROGRAM

The additional supplement of $300 per week to individuals receiving unemployment benefits is considered emergency assistance and therefore will not count as income or a resource for SNAP.
For more information on the lost wages program refer to COVID-19 Resources, Expansion of Unemployment Insurance, Lost Wages Assistance Program.

PANDEMIC UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION (PUC)

The $600 per week in Pandemic Unemployment Compensation will count as unearned income when determining eligibility for SNAP.

Retroactive UIB lump sum payments will be excluded as income for SNAP eligibility purposes, however amount received as a lump sum payment will count as a resource in the month received.

The current $600 weekly Unemployment Insurance Benefit (UIB) Pandemic Unemployment supplement established under the federal CARES Act expired on July 31, 2020. While the future of this benefit is being determined at a federal level, in the interim, all cases that were receiving the $600 supplement will be re-budgeted at recertification to ensure that all benefits are maximized, and no errors are made in the budgeting process.

Households who were previously rejected for SNAP benefits because of the $600 supplement and believe they are now eligible should re-apply. Households who are not due for recertification and are no longer in receipt of the $600 supplement should submit a request for rebudgeting.

For more information on the expanded unemployment benefits refer to COVID-19 Resources, Expansion of Unemployment Insurance.