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Food Access and Programs

SNAP: Changes Under COVID-19

T + T

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 Benefit Amount

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021extends the increase to the SNAP benefit maximum allotments from June 30, 2021 to September 30, 2021.

SNAP Maximum Benefits Amounts
Household Size January 1, 2021 – September 30, 2021
1 $234
2 $430
3 $616
4 $782
5 $929
6 $1,114
7 $1,232
8 $1,408
Each additional person $176

Change in SNAP Application Procedures

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.

APPLICATION AVENUES

Application

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

Faxed Applications

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

Online Applications

  • Applicants in NYC are strongly encouraged to use NYC ACCESS HRA, http://www.nyc.gov/ACCESSHRA. ACCESS HRA is an online portal where Cash Assistance and Emergency Assistance 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.
  • Applicants outside NYC can apply for Cash Assistance online via myBenefits.
    • Required documentation can be submitted (uploaded) electronically via NYDocSubmit mobile, found on Apple Store or Google Play.

Applying with Community Based Representative

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.

NYC 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 June 30, 2021. 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

SNAP Partial Interview Waiver

Certain applicants are exempt from the SNAP eligibility interview through June 30, 2021, at which time OTDA will evaluate the need for continued waivers. The applicant must meet the following conditions:

  • The applicant’s identity has been verified; and
  • All other mandatory information and verification has been provided and is valid:
    • Identity
    • Social Security number
    • Residency
    • Gross non-exempt income (earned and unearned)
    • Disability
    • Immigrants’ eligibility

Thus, there is no need for these applicants to contact or visit an HRA Center or local DSS office for a new application or recertification interview.

Required Interviews

If the above listed conditions have not been met, an interview is required. In addition, interviews will be required if any of the information submitted is unclear or cannot be verified through separate data matches.

In addition, OTDA has received a waiver through June 30, 2021 allowing them to conduct all interviews via phone. When an interview is required, HRA will reach out to the client directly.

Signature Requirement

NYC has received an extension through June 30, 2021 for a SNAP signature waiver for applications/recertifications 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.

RESOURCES

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

Changes in SNAP Recertification Procedures

EXPIRING RECERTIFICATIONS

OTDA has extended the recertification extension period through June 30, 2021 for expiring SNAP cases, providing a 6-month extension, whether on a 12, 24 or 48-month recertification timeline. Thus, if a two-year recertification were due during a recertification extension period, that recertification would be extended for up to six-months.

Cases that have previously received a recertification six-month extension for SNAP benefits are not eligible for a second extension of the recertification period. When subject to recertification, the household should submit their recertification forms through ACCESS HRA. There is no need to visit the local SNAP office.

Partial Interview Waiver

SNAP recipients whose identity has been verified and who are able to provide the following verification forms will not be subject to a recertification eligibility interview:

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

Required Interviews

If the above listed conditions have not been met, an interview is required. In addition, interviews will be required if any of the information submitted is unclear or cannot be verified through separate data matches.

In addition, OTDA has received a waiver through June 30, 2021 allowing them to conduct all interviews via phone. When an interview is required, HRA will reach out to the client directly.

Signature Requirement

NYC has received an extension through June 30, 2021 for a SNAP signature waiver for applications/recertifications 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 were required to submit a SNAP Period Report due between January 1 and June 30, 2021.

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

The USDA has granted a State-wide waiver of the ABAWD work requirements which commences on October 1, 2020 and runs through September 30, 2021. More information can be found here https://otda.ny.gov/policy/gis/2020/20DC082.pdf.

Emergency Allotments (EA) for SNAP Recipients

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act authorized an Emergency Allotments (EA) addressing food insecurity to SNAP households during the pandemic. EA provisions allowed SNAP recipient households to receive the maximum amount of SNAP benefits for their household size. The amount of the EA benefit was the difference between the household’s regular SNAP allotment and the maximum amount of SNAP benefits for the household size. EA benefits were issued to these households from March 2020 through the March 2021.

However, this meant that households at or near the maximum SNAP benefit amount received little or no support.

The USDA recently revised their guidance on EA to clarify eligibility to include households already receiving the maximum SNAP benefits. Under the new policy, households who had not received EA payment and those whose EA payments were less than $95 per month will receive increased benefits. States must adjust and issue the new EA calculations beginning with the April 2021 EA issuance. The guidance states:

  • Households who are currently receiving $95 or more in EA, will continue to receive that same amount—no change in EA for these households;
  • Households receiving the maximum SNAP benefit for their household size will receive an EA of $95 per month;
  • Households with a calculated EA amount of less than $95 will receive EA totaling $95 per month.
Case Example

A household size of 3 receives $209 in SNAP benefits. The maximum amount of SNAP benefits a household size of 3 can receive is $616. Through the EA, this household will receive an extra $407 in SNAP benefits.

A household size of 2 receives $370 in SNAP benefits. The maximum of SNAP for a household size of 2 is $430. The EA supplement will be calculated at $95 rather than $60.

Emergency supplements are automatically issued there is no need to apply for or contact the local office about these supplements.

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

For SNAP, the Economic Impact payments (EIP) are excluded from consideration as income in the month of receipt and as a resource for 12 months following receipt. However, any remaining balance from these payments could impact a SNAP household’s eligibility after 12 months if the household is subject to the SNAP resource test. For more information go to https://otda.ny.gov/policy/gis/2021/21DC015.pdf.

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.

FEDERAL PANDEMIC UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION

The $300/$100 FPUC payments are excluded from income and resources in the month of receipt and the following 9 months for the purposes of determining eligibility or calculating benefit amounts. Payments that are received retroactively are also excluded as income or resource for SNAP. For more information, go to https://otda.ny.gov/policy/gis/2021/21DC015.pdf.

Pandemic Unemployment Compensation was treated differently under the CARES Act, for more information go to https://otda.ny.gov/policy/gis/2020/20DC035.pdf.

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