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

APPLICATION AVENUES

Apply using a Paper Application

Fax to 917-639-1111or drop off a paper application at a local SNAP Center. A paper application can be downloaded here or by calling 311.

Applying by Phone

Call the HRA Infoline 718-557-1399. There is a statewide waiver in place for the application signature for the SNAP application through September 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.

Apply with a Community-Based Organization

Certain community based organizations can directly accept applications (not process an acceptance or denial). Please call in advance to find out if appointments are over the phone or in-person, https://www1.nyc.gov/site/hra/partners/find-a-partner-organization.page.

Apply Online

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.
Note

HRA is offering training webinars on ACCESS HRA. These trainings are open to everyone. For a general overview of ACCESS HRA and the provider portal case management tool, visit: https://booknow.appointment-plus.com/9z3xxln8/?&service_id=39119.

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 a Representative

Other individuals, such as family, friends or other 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.

HOMEBOUND APPLICANTS

Home Bound clients 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: 212-331-4640, 311, or emailing Ctr90HVNRequests@hra.nyc.gov . 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 September 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 September 30, 2021, allowing all interviews to take place via phone. When an interview is required, HRA will reach out to the client directly.

RESOURCES

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

Changes in SNAP Recertification Procedures

RECERTIFICATION Requirement

There are no additional extensions for SNAP recertification. Clients began receiving recertification notifications at the end of May and their ability to recertify will begin June 1, 2021.

Household can submit their recertification forms through ACCESS HRA. There is no need to visit the local SNAP office.

Recertification 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 interview:

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

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 September 30, 2021, allowing all interviews to take place via phone. When an interview is required, HRA will reach out to the client directly.

SNAP PERIODIC REPORT

Beginning July 1, 2021, SNAP households are required to report changes in household’s circumstances including submitting a completed periodic reporting.

Failure to do may result in a case closing.

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

A waiver of the ABAWD work requirements was previously in place until September 30, 2021. However, the USDA approved an additional waiver of the ABAWD time limit in all areas of NYS for the period of October 1, 2021, through September 30, 2022. More information can be found here https://otda.ny.gov/policy/gis/2021/21DC049.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. SNAP households are eligible to receive an EA supplemental benefit in the amount that will bring them up to the maximum SNAP monthly benefit level for their household size or a supplement of $95—whichever amount is greater.
Benefits have been issued every month since March 2020.

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.

Temporary SNAP Student Expansion

The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, temporarily expanded SNAP eligibility for students of higher education.

For SNAP purposes, a student is defined as any person age 18 through 49 years, physically and mentally fit, and enrolled at least half time in an institution of higher education. In addition, students must meet additional requirements such as be employed for a minimum of 20 hours per week, participate in a State or Federally financed work study program etc.

Eligibility under the expanded rules, in addition to being enrolled at an institution of higher education, a student must be:

  • Eligible for a state or federal work study program, even if not enrolled, OR
  • Have an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) of $0 on their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the current academic year.

This exemption will remain in effect until 30 days after the COVID-19 federal public health emergency is lifted.

Students who are granted a temporary exemption and meet all other SNAP eligibility rules, will remain eligible until their next recertification even if the COVID-19 emergency declaration ends during their certification period.

For more information go to https://otda.ny.gov/policy/gis/2021/21DC023.pdf. Also see, Hunger Solutions: https://hungersolutionsny.org/federal-nutrition-programs/snap/snap-eligibility-for-college-students/#COVID.

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

CHILD TAX CREDITS

The American Rescue Plan expanded the Child Tax Credit (CTA) by allowing households with children to claim up to $3,600 and allows for the CTC to be provided in advance monthly payments.

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.