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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 Benefit Amount

The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, signed on December 27, 2020, increases the SNAP benefit amounts effective January 1, 2021 through June 30, 2021, see chart below. In addition, the minimum monthly SNAP benefit, for one and two-person households, increases from $16 to $19 through June 30, 2021.

Beginning in July, the SNAP benefit amounts will return to the amounts prior to the Act.

SNAP Maximum Benefits Amounts
Household Size January 1, 2021 – June 30, 2021 July 1, 2021 – September 30, 2021
1 $234 $204
2 $430 $374
3 $616 $535
4 $782 $680
5 $929 $807
6 $1,114 $969
7 $1,232 $1,071
8 $1,408 $1,224
Each additional person $176 $153

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 March 31, 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 March 31st, 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 March 31, 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 March 31, 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

EXPIRING RECERTIFICATIONS

OTDA has expanded the recertification extension period through March 31, 2021 for expiring SNAP cases, giving them a 6-month extension.

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 Eligibility 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 March 31, 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 March 31, 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 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

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

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 December 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.