COVID-19 FAQ- Public Assistance

Benefits Team April 24, 2020




Last Updated: April 23, 2020


Q. I receive Temporary Assistance (Family Assistance or Safety Net Assistance). Am I eligible for a stimulus payment? 

Yes. If you filed a tax return for the years 2018 or 2019 you will automatically receive a stimulus payment from the IRS.  You do not have to do anything. The amount will be $1200 for an individual, $2400 for a married couple, and an additional $500 per child.

If you did not file a 2018 or 2019 tax return, the IRS has created a special “non-filers” form so that people who have not filed taxes can apply for stimulus payments. The form is at https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/non-filers-enter-payment-info-here. Information you will need for the form:

  • full name, current mailing address and an email address
  • date of birth and valid Social Security number
  • bank account number, account type and routing number, if you have a bank account. If you have a bank account, the IRS will deposit the money directly into your account. If you do not have a bank account, you will receive your payment by mail in the form of a check.
  • Identity Protection Personal Identification Number (IP PIN) if you got one from the IRS earlier this year
  • driver’s license or state-issued ID, if you have one
  • for each qualifying child under age 17 who lives with you and who depends on you: name, Social Security number or Adoption Taxpayer Identification Number, and their relationship to you or your spouse


Q. Will the IRS call me to ask me any questions after I file my taxes or the non-filers form?

No. The IRS will not call you. If anyone calls you asking for personal information, hang up. It is a SCAM.


Q. Will I lose my Temporary Assistance if I receive a stimulus payment? 

No. The stimulus payment will not count as income or as a resource and will not result in a reduction of termination of cash assistance, SNAP, or HEAP. This rule applies the month you receive your stimulus payment and for the following two months.


Q. If I receive a stimulus payment will it harm me for immigration purposes or make me a Public Charge? 

No. The Recovery Rebate does not count towards Public Charge for immigration purposes.


Q. I just got more SNAP benefits than I usually do. Did DSS make a mistake? NO.

No. All SNAP recipients who do not already receive the maximum SNAP payment will receive a one-time Emergency Supplemental SNAP benefit which, when combined with the amount of SNAP the household already receives, will total the maximum allowable payment for two months – March and April. These payments will be issued on a staggered basis throughout the month of April. The monthly maximum amount is set forth below:


  • Household of 1 – $194
  • Household of 2 – $355
  • Household of 3 – $509
  • Household of 4- $646
  • Household of 5 – $768
  • Household of 6 – $921
  • Household of 7 – $1,018
  • Household of 8 – $1,164
  • For each additional member $146


Q. I need financial help. I have lost my job and can’t get through to apply for unemployment. Will my local social services district be open so that I can apply for assistance? 

Yes. All social services offices are required to be open their regular hours, meet emergency needs and respond to requests for assistance. You can find the address and phone number of your social services district here:  https://otda.ny.gov/workingfamilies/dss.asp Call your local district to see what special procedures may be in place. Some counties have posted the procedures to their web sites. Applications can continue to be submitted in person, by mail, or fax. You can find applications for public assistance here: https://otda.ny.gov/programs/applications/  Some DSS offices may have a drop box to receive applications.

If you need help paying for food, you can apply for SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance) online at: https://www.mybenefits.ny.gov/mybenefits/begin


Q. Will I have to go to the DSS office for an interview?

No. The State has waived the in person interview requirement at least until May 7, 2020. DSS workers will interview you by phone.


Q. Can I be sanctioned if I do not comply with work or other requirements that require in person contact?

Until at least May 15, 2020, you cannot be sanctioned for not complying with work assignments or other activities that require in-person contact. You may be required to complete employment assessments and interviews by telephone.


Q. I have a fair hearing. Will I have to show up in person?

All persons requesting a fair hearing after March 12, 2020 will be offered the opportunity to have their case heard by telephone or video. All persons who requested a hearing before that date will be permitted to adjourn the hearing or have the matter heard by telephone, video, or other means at the already scheduled date and time.

If your hearing is scheduled in the morning, the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) will try to call you between 9AM and 12PM, and if your hearing was scheduled in the afternoon, OAH will try to call you between 1PM and 5PM. If OAH is unable to contact you, your hearing will be rescheduled for a later date.


Q. Can I apply for assistance without hurting my immigration status?

Even if you are not a U.S. citizen, you may be eligible for Medicaid, SNAP or Temporary Assistance. Each program has its own rules. If you are found eligible for these benefits, you are most likely in an immigration status where public charge concerns do not apply. If you’re not eligible for the benefits, any benefits received by household members will not be charged against you.  If you have an immigration attorney, you should consult with them regarding the best course of action for your situation.


Please note: Do not send us any nonpublic information about any legal matter for which you seek legal representation until we request that you do so. Empire Justice attorneys will inform you if and when your matter is considered for legal representation. Until that time, any information you provide WILL NOT be considered confidential, and NO attorney-client relationship is formed by communications received through this website. Any information available on the website is for general legal education purposes only, and is not legal advice.