COVID-19 FAQ- Eligibility for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (“SNAP”) Benefits

CREE Team June 05, 2020




Last Updated: May 8, 2020


Eligibility for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (“SNAP”) Benefits While Waiting for  Unemployment Insurance (UI)

or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) Benefits  in New York


 Q. I can’t afford to buy groceries. Can I get help buying food before my UIB starts?

If you don’t have money to buy food, you may be able to get Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (“SNAP”) benefits. SNAP is the new name for the federal Food Stamps Program. You may be able to  receive SNAP benefits while your UI or PUA application is pending. Even if you have already gotten other kinds of food assistance, for example from a local food pantry or take home meals from your child’s school, you can receive SNAP benefits.


Q. Who is eligible for SNAP?

SNAP is generally available in New York to households, (a single individual, or group of people who live and cook together, e.g. a family), and whose income is up to 130% of the federal poverty level (“FPL”); or 150% FPL if there is earned income to the household; or 200% of FPL if the household contains elderly/disabled members, or pays dependent care costs. These income limits are reflected in the chart below:


Federal Poverty Limit

Monthly Income Standards


Household/ Family Size


130% Gross Income Limit 150% Gross Income Limit 200% Gross Income Limit Maximum Monthly SNAP Benefit
1 $1,354 $1,562 $2,082 $194
2 $1,832 $2,114 $2,818 $355
3 $2,311 $2,667 $3,555 $509
4 $2,790 $3,219 $4,292 $646


Q. What about Resources?

In New York, most SNAP applicants will not be subject to a resource test.  This means you can receive SNAP even if you own a car or home, have some savings in the bank, or own valuable tools and equipment that you use to do your job. Immigrants qualified under federal law and U.S. citizen children of immigrants (regardless of the parents’ immigration status) can also receive SNAP.


Q. How do I apply for SNAP?

SNAP applications in NY can be filed online, completed on paper, or submitted with the help of a person who helps you file an application.

To apply online, go to https://www.mybenefits.ny.gov/mybenefits/begin  if you live outside of New York City.

Go to https://a069-access.nyc.gov/accesshra/ if you live in New York City and want to apply for SNAP online.

Paper applications for SNAP can be picked up at the local DSS or downloaded here (Form LDSS-4826, about halfway down the webpage, available in 8 languages online—you need to be able to print these if you want to use them).  This application is only for SNAP. There is a different paper application to apply for SNAP at the same time as you apply for public assistance and/or Medicaid.  The paper application should be dropped off at, mailed or faxed directly to the DSS when you fill it out and are ready to submit it.

For assistance in submitting an application for SNAP to the local DSS, contact your local Nutrition Outreach and Education Provider (“NOEP”).  The NOEP is a person whose job is to help people apply for SNAP benefits.  There is a NOEP available to help for almost every county in New York. The list of NOEPs and the counties they serve is available online here.


 Q. I need food now. How long will it take for my SNAP benefits to start? 

You could get SNAP benefits within 7 Days.

Here’s how: If you have less than $100 in resources or less than $150 in monthly income, OR your income is less than the total of your rent or mortgage, heating costs and utilities (including telephone).  If you fit in either category, it is very important that you indicate on your application that you want EXPEDITED SNAP. If you meet the expedited processing rules, you will get SNAP benefits within 7 calendar days from the date you submit the application.

If you do not qualify for this expedited processing, you should receive a decision on your eligibility with 30 days from the date the application is submitted, so long as you submit requested documentation on time.


Q. If I get Expedited SNAP will I automatically continue to receive SNAP?

 No. The expedited SNAP benefit is a special one-time, single issuance. If you need or want to continue receiving SNAP after you get an expedited issuance, you must complete the application process and provide least the following mandatory information for verification–(1) Identity; (2) Social Security Number; (3) Residency; (4) Gross income (earned and unearned); (5) Disability (if you are claiming disability related eligibility); (6) Immigration status (if you are not a United States Citizen).


 Q. What happens when I apply for SNAP?

There are three main parts to the SNAP application: (1) the written application, (2) the interview, and (3) the verification.  Once you submit an application form, the DSS will contact you to schedule an interview and tell you what documents they need.  If you have documents on file with the DSS, perhaps because you received SNAP or other assistance in the past, you may not need to submit much additional information.

The DSS should tell you what types of documents they need from you.  They may send a letter to your mailing address or tell you in a telephone call.  Documents can be mailed, faxed or scanned in, or submitted through an app depending on the County.  You can also submit documents by dropping them off at your local DSS office.

Because of the current COVID-related public health emergency, you may be allowed to skip or delay your SNAP interview if you provide these required pieces of information for verification by the DSS–(1) Identity; (2) Social Security Number; (3) Residency; (4) Gross income (earned and unearned); (5) Disability (if you are claiming disability related eligibility); (6) Immigration status (if you are not a United States Citizen).  The DSS will verify what they can using online records, like the ones from the social security administration, and only ask you to provide what they cannot check for themselves.


Q. How do I get and use my SNAP benefits if my case is opened?

SNAP benefits are issued to you on an electronic benefits card that is mailed to you. You will also receive a personal identification number (“PIN”) by mail.  You use your SNAP benefits card to buy food the same way you use a debit card.  You can swipe or insert the card in a card reader at the store and type in your PIN on the keypad.  The amount of the food purchase will be deducted from your SNAP account until the balance is $0.  If you have an on-going SNAP case, your benefits will be deposited to your SNAP account automatically on a specific day of the month.


Q. What can I buy with my SNAP card?

 SNAP benefits can only be used to purchase food. SNAP benefits cannot be used to purchase non-food items (like toilet paper, paper towels, diapers, feminine hygiene items, dish soap, laundry soap, bleach, disposable food storage items like plastic baggies or aluminum foil, alcohol, or cigarettes).  You cannot redeem SNAP benefits for cash.  You cannot use SNAP benefits to pay for food delivery fees or any associated transaction costs (such as costs associated with a grocery delivery service like Instacart), though you can use SNAP to purchase food through some online sources (Amazon Prime Pantry) and grocery shopping apps and then pay for associated transaction costs using a different payment source.  You may also be able use your SNAP to shop through a store website or app and then pick up your groceries in person from the store without any additional charges; this will depend on the store.


Q. What happens to my SNAP benefits when I start receiving UI or PUA ?

 Contact DSS right away and tell them the amount of your weekly benefits. From now until July 31, 2020 persons receiving  UI  or PUA benefits will receive between $104 to $504 + an extra $600 each week,   When this happens, households receiving UI or  PUA  benefits will no longer be eligible for SNAP because of the extra income.   When this happens, you can still use any money left on the SNAP card until it reaches $0.

After July 31, 2020, households who receive the standard amount of UI or PUA  ($104 to $504 per week) benefits may still be eligible for SNAP, but this will depend on the size of the household and the monthly amount of UI/PUA benefits.

SNAP rules require you to tell the DSS within 10 days if you start receiving additional income that puts your household over the income eligibility level for SNAP.  This means that when you are approved for UI/PUA and anticipate receiving your benefits, you should tell the DSS within 10 days.


 Q. What if I need SNAP again later?

You can reapply for SNAP at any time you feel like you need it. If your unemployment benefits end before you are able to find a job, or you return to work but are earning less money, you can receive SNAP to help you purchase food so long as you meet the income qualification and eligibility rules at the time you are applying.


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