Applying For Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Benefits (SNAP, formerly known as Food Stamps)

What is SNAP?

SNAP is a needs-based entitlement program. It can boost your monthly budget for purchasing groceries. Anyone who applies and is eligible will receive benefits. The amount of benefits you may be eligible for will depend on who is in your household, income, and certain expenses.

How do I apply for SNAP?

To apply for SNAP, you will have to fill out an application, provide certain supporting documents to your local Department of Social Services, and complete an interview. You can apply for SNAP by mail, in person, fax, online, or through a third party such as a friend, relative or community agency representative.

To get an application for SNAP, you can:

  • Call your local Department of Social Services and ask them to mail you an application;
  • Go to your local Department of Social Services and pick up an application;
  • Print out an application from the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance webpage at; or
  • Create an account and file an application online at
Can I apply for other benefits at the same time I apply for SNAP?

Yes. There is also a longer joint application which can be used to apply for multiple services (child care assistance, medical assistance, SNAP and/or temporary assistance).

What documentation will I need to provide?

You may need to provide the following documentation to apply for SNAP:

  • Proof of Identity (photo ID, birth certificate, Social Security card)
  • Social Security numbers for all household members
  • Birth certificates for all children in the household
  • Proof of shelter expenses (rent receipt, lease or mortgage)
  • Proof of utility expenses (e.g., National Grid bill)
  • Proof of income (child support letter, SS benefits statement, pay stubs, SSI award letters, etc.)
  • Bank statement(s)
  • Medical bills (if you are at least 60 years of age or have a disability)
  • Child care expenses

Not everyone will need all of these documents, and not all of the listed documents are relevant to all applicants. Applicants should have with them as many of these documents as they apply to their household situation so they can be forwarded with the application. If a document verifying an expense for budgeting purposes, such as shelter expenses, is not readily available, the SNAP case can still be opened and calculated without the shelter deduction, but the household might get a smaller amount than it would have received if the expense had been confirmed.

Do I have to be interviewed in person?

The interview is part of the eligibility process for SNAP. Some households might be eligible for a waiver of a face-to-face interview. This does not mean there is no interview, but rather the interview will be conducted by telephone. Waivers may be granted where:

  • all adult members are elderly or disabled
  • there are hardship conditions such as illness, care of a household member, inclement weather, work hours that conflict with the local DSS business hours. or lack of transportation
  • a household with only an SSI recipient classified as living alone or with their spouse
  • group living arrangements.
How long will it take to get my SNAP benefits?

Unless you are eligible for expedited processing of your application (see LifeLine about Expedited SNAP), most SNAP applications take 30 days to process. You must receive a written decision about your SNAP application and, if you are approved, benefits should start as of the date you filed your application. If approved, you will receive an Electronic Benefit Card and your benefits will be automatically added to the card each month. You will be asked to select a PIN for the card so that only you, the applicant, will be able to use the card for buying food.

What if I am denied benefits?

If you have been denied for benefits and you do not agree with the decision regarding your application for SNAP, you may be entitled to appeal (called a “fair hearing”). The denial form will give you information about how to request a fair hearing. Fair hearings for actions affecting your SNAP (food stamp) benefits must be requested within 90 days.