How to Apply For SNAP in New York

Food insecurity is a real challenge for many Americans. In 2019, there were 35.2 million people across the US who lived in households facing food insecurity. 5.3 million children in those same households live without the assurance of having enough food to eat daily.

If you live in a household with a low income, finding the needed resources to cover all the necessities can not only be challenging, sometimes it might feel impossible. 

From paying rent for housing and covering transportation for work and maybe child care too, often there’s little left for groceries.  

SNAP in New York offers households struggling to get food the assistance they need when they can’t get the food themselves.

Do you need help with getting more food in your household? Read on to learn more about the SNAP program in New York, how to apply and what kinds of benefits you can get if eligible.

What Is SNAP?

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, is a federal program that offers benefits to those in need of food assistance.

SNAP is managed by the US Agriculture Department and funded through Health and Human Services and states are responsible for eligibility for the program.

Eligibility varies from state to state based on the economic factors of the state. More on New York’s eligibility requirements below.

SNAP offers financial assistance so those in need can avoid malnutrition and food insecurity because of their low-income status. 

Who Is Eligible For SNAP in New York?

There are several factors involved in eligibility for the SNAP program in New York. The biggest factor, of course, is income, since this program is designed to support low-income households. 

New York will consider the number of people in your household and the household’s total income. For example, a household of four meets income eligibility with a monthly gross income of $4,366 or a yearly gross income of $52,392.

In most cases, savings like stocks, savings, and retirement accounts are not considered when calculating eligibility. It’s also important to note that the SNAP program doesn’t just consider the number of people in your immediate family but instead the number of people who live in your household.

New York SNAP Application Process

To get benefits, you must first complete an application. You can do this online, by mail, or in person. Applications go through the New York State Department of Social Services (DSS). 

The SNAP application process involves two steps and some needed documentation to receive benefits. You need to complete an application using one of the three methods and then interview with a caseworker. You’ll need to provide the needed documentation, which might include things like income verification and residency status.

It’s a good idea to pull this information together before you begin your application. More on this below.

You’re likely to move through the process more quickly if you can complete the application online versus using a paper copy application. 

What’s Needed to Apply

To apply, you need to provide certain information. If you don’t make a complete application, it only slows down the process of getting benefits. You will need to provide the following for your application:

  • Name
  • Contact information
  • Demographic information for each member of your household
  • Social Security Numbers (SSNs) or Alien Registration Numbers (A-Numbers) for each member of the household
  • Proof of your income with pay stubs
  • Proof of your household expenses
  • List of your household’s financial resources

Though all of this information might not be a part of the initial application, part of the interview process involves providing requested documentation to the caseworker doing the interview, so it makes sense to gather information such as utility bills and pay stubs as soon as you can and have it ready.

Applying for SNAP Online

You can apply online for the SNAP program if you have computer access; this is the preferred method of applying. You can apply online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Be prepared that you’ll visit the New York application portal, where you will need to create an account for yourself. This requires you to set up a username and password.

Once you do so, keep this information safe. You’ll need it once you’re receiving benefits in order to to access your account, get information on your benefits, and check how much you have available on your account. 

In addition to providing necessary information, you’ll also get asked to complete an eligibility quiz. Don’t worry; it’s just a series of questions that helps a New York caseworker understand your situation. You should answer the questions as honestly as possible because, remember, later, you’ll need to provide documentation. 

Once the application gets submitted online, then you’ll be contacted for your interview. More on this shortly.

Applying by Mail or in Person

If you prefer a paper SNAP application, that’s an option for you too. You can either print an application from the online portal, or you can pick up a paper application at your closest Department of Social Services office.

Your closest DSS office is also where you can submit your application in person. You may want to research the local address instead of mailing it to the main DSS address because getting your application to your local office may help to expedite the application process.

Visiting the office in person is allowed but not preferred. DSS prefers to limit in-person applicants to people who genuinely need help with their application or have no access to the internet. 

Be Prepared For Your SNAP Interview in New York

Be prepared for your interview, which is a required step in the process. The caseworker will ask you a series of questions about the makeup of your household. You’ll likely be asked during the interview to provide the documentation for the information you provided on your application. 

Try not to be intimidated by the interview. Often, the caseworker can help you get connected to SNAP benefits and other state resources for low-income households. 

Most of the time, you’ll be contacted via phone to set up your interview. Don’t ignore this phone call; it’s a necessary step, and your application won’t move along until you complete the interview.

SNAP Benefit Limitations

The benefits of SNAP provide financial resources that allow program participants to purchase food items for their household. The rules are quite strict about what you’re allowed to purchase and what you’re not allowed. 

Accepted food items include:

You’re not allowed to use SNAP benefits for the following:

  • Beer, wine, liquor, cigarettes, or tobacco
  • Food that can get eaten in the store
  • Hot foods
  • Any nonfood items, such as soaps, paper products, household cleaning supplies

You also can’t use the SNAP benefits to purchase food for pets. Medicines and vitamins are also on the banned list for benefit use. 

Can I Get Temporary SNAP Assistance?

Temporary assistance is available if you have an emergency need. Contact your local Department of Social Services office to get immediate assistance. 

New York is also offering emergency SNAP benefits as part of their Covid relief benefits. Again, the best option is to contact the DSS local office for information. You can also visit their online portal for more information.

Can I Get SNAP Assistance in New York if I’m in College?

Many college students find themselves with food insecurity because their status prevents them from earning enough to cover tuition, living expenses, and food. 

College students often fit into low-income eligibility and can be eligible for SNAP benefits. In addition to income, New York has several other criteria for eligibility for college students. 

For example, there are work requirements. College students must also be enrolled in a state or federal work-study program. 

The list for college student eligibility is quite specific and coincides with other aid related to college studies. Visit the state portal for specifics. 

Can Non-US Citizens Get SNAP Benefits in New York?

Some non-US citizens may be able to access SNAP benefits in New York. Members of the following populations may be eligible:

  • Refugees
  • Cuban/Haitian Entrants
  • Asylees
  • Amerasian immigrants
  • Individuals with deportation or removal withheld
  • Hmong or Highland Lao people
  • Victims of human trafficking
  • Parolees for at least one year
  • Conditional entrants
  • North American Indians born in Canada
  • Members of federally recognized tribes
  • Honorably discharged U.S. veteran including the spouse and unmarried dependent children.
  • Aliens on active duty in the U.S. military service, including the spouse and unmarried dependent children
  • Aliens paroled into the U.S. for at least one year
  • Certain battered immigrants and their children or parents

If you’re a Legal Permanent Resident or LPR in the US for at least 5 years, you can also qualify. LPR citizens with disabilities or those who are under the age of 18 also can qualify. 

What Happens if Your Application Is Denied?

Don’t despair if your application is denied; often it can mean there was some part of the application that wasn’t complete. You can file an appeal with the state, which can result in a hearing where your particular situation is reviewed and you have an opportunity to state your case. Again, preparation for this hearing is important because having documentation will help you qualify.

Get SNAP in New York Benefits

SNAP in New York is important to help those families experiencing food insecurity. If you believe you may qualify, gather your documentation and apply online if possible. There are also other programs available to access through their website.

Save Money on Your Wireless Phone Service

If you qualify for SNAP benefits, you also qualify for Lifeline service. Lifeline is a federal benefit program that makes it possible for low-income consumers to receive access to free or heavily discounted communication services. Click here to find out more and apply for this valuable benefit.