Temporary Assistance and SNAP Changes During COVID 19
Some policies and procedures have changed at your local Department of Social Services (“DSS”) and with fair hearings. There are changes to work programs and extra time for some things (like recertifications) to help you keep the benefits you need while staying home and staying safe.
SNAP Applications and Re-Certifications During COVID19
Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program provides eligible households with a one time payment of about $420 per child to meet nutritional needs while schools are closed. This helps make up for school meals that your kids cannot access while schools are closed. You do not have to apply for the program; if you have an EBT card for SNAP, TA or Medicaid, it will be deposited automatically on your card. If you do not have these programs, but your kids qualify for free or reduced price school lunches, OTDA is working with the Education Department to find your information and send you a temporary benefits card to access the money. Payments started in June and will continue through August.
This program is not administered by DSS, it is administered by the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance. If you have questions or concerns about your P-EBT benefits, pleaes call the P-EBT helpline at 1-833-452-0096. P-EBT Email Inquiries
May be directed to [email protected]
Please see the OTDA COVID-19 PEBT FAQ for more information here.
Emergency Assistance during COVID-19
DSS must help with emergency needs immediately. They cannot close the office or tell you not to apply.
Emergency assistance interview can be by telephone until at least August 5, 2020. If you are in a homeless shelter, your “check-in” or call in program with DSS can be done by phone, meetings can be reduced, or if needed DSS may suspend the meetings.
Documentation and Waiting Period Requirements
Temporary Assistance and SNAP Work Program Changes
Unfortunately, sanctions are not suspended or canceled, and they are not getting lifted early because of COVID-19. You cannot be required to have contact with others, and you cannot be punished for failing to do something that requires you to be around other people. However, you can still get sanctioned for skipping phone employment assessments or work-at-home activities. Good cause for skipping these activities includes things like lack of childcare and transportation, but you must explain your reasons to DSS. If you are currently on a sanction because you cannot be sent to an in-person work activity, DSS can either take your commitment to comply as good enough or can give you an at-home assignment. If you are facing a sanction or are on a sanction and having trouble getting it lifted, you should call the Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York for assistance right away.
If you are required to be in drug/alcohol treatment, then DSS cannot sanction you for failing to attend in-person treatment as long as you are attending your drug and alcohol assessments and/or counseling by phone. If you do not attend your drug and alcohol assessments and/or counseling by phone, you can be sanctioned. If you cannot do them for some reason, contact your worker right away to explain why.
Homelessness During COVID19
Stimulus Payments While On DSS Benefits
OTDA Fair Hearing Changes
OTDA Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) is testing a new remote hearing system by phone and video from March 12, 2020 through March 12, 2021.
Covid Safety at DSS
You will be asked to wear a mask at DSS, unless you are medically unable to do so. All staff at DSS are required to wear masks and follow CDC guidelines for COVID safety. If you are unable to wear a mask, you cannot be denied services, and DSS cannot demand a doctors note to prove it. However DSS may take other measures to protect you and the staff, such as social distancing, interviewing you from behind a window, or using remote options to process your case. If you need help from DSS and cannot wear a mask, you should call DSS ahead of time to see what accommodations are available for your safety and the safety of others.