DSS COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

Department of Social Services (DSS) COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

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SNAP Inquiries

With SNAP on-demand interviews waived, will clients still be able to obtain E-SNAP benefits? How does this work?

HRA will review applications and if an applicant is eligible for ESNAP and has had their identity verified (either through SSN validation or through submitted documents) the benefits will be issued, and a benefits card will be mailed to them.

Can SNAP applications be faxed?

Yes. SNAP applications can be faxed to the SNAP Mail Application & Referral Unit (MARU) at 917-639-1111.

Will applications be processed more quickly because clients do not need to have an interview?

Clients who submit verification of all mandatory eligibility factors (Identity, SSN, Residency, Gross Non-Exempt Income, Disability, and Immigration status) will have their cases processed without an interview.

Which online retailers / grocery delivery services accept EBT cards?

Amazon is available citywide. FreshDirect is available for select Bronx zip codes and Shoprite is available on Staten Island. Note that, under federal law, purchasing and/or delivery fees cannot be paid for with SNAP benefits.

Can SNAP benefits be used to pay for other supplies like masks, sanitizing wipes, and hand soap?

No. Under federal law, SNAP can only be used for unprepared food and non-alcoholic beverages. See list from USDA here.

If a client received an immediate needs grant, should they also be eligible for E-SNAP?

Not necessarily. To meet a food emergency, an immediate needs grant is often used when a household is ineligible for ESNAP.

Which categories of SNAP applicants will be required to complete an interview? How can clients check to see if they will need to be interviewed?

Under the federal waiver, only clients for whom identity is not verified and not all mandatory documentation is provided will be required to complete an interview for SNAP. Unfortunately, there is no mechanism for clients to check on this during this emergency. However, if the client receives ESNAP or their regular SNAP case is active / open, that indicates that they do not need to complete an interview.

Cash Assistance Inquiries

Will clients be provided with a window during which they can expect to receive their phone interview?

Unfortunately not, due to the high volume of applications.

Is there any way for clients to submit case changes without visiting an HRA Center?

For case changes that are not covered by Special Grants (i.e. change in household size or income), clients can upload the associated eligibility documents (i.e. self-attestation that a client is no longer employed, documents related to adding a household member) using the ACCESS HRA mobile document upload app. HRA will process these change requests using the documents provided.

If a client misses their interview phone call, is there a number they can call back to reschedule?

Not at this time due to application volume. HRA staff are making at least two consecutive attempts to call the client.

What should a client do if they submitted their CA application but have not received an interview call within five days?

Due to very high application volume, we are experiencing some delays in interviewing. Clients should monitor and answer the contact phone number they provided on their application.

Is there a way for a client to check to see if they missed their phone interview?

For SNAP cases, a notice of missed interview (FIA-1152d) will go out to the client letting them know HRA will call them again. This notice can be viewed in MyCases on ACCESS HRA. For Cash cases, we will leave a voicemail letting the client know we tried to reach them.

Medicaid Inquiries

Will individuals returning to the community after incarceration be able to visit a Medicaid Center to re-activate their Medicaid?

Individuals who had Medicaid prior to incarceration will have their Medicaid cases reactivated by the State’s automated process. If coverage was not restored, clients are encouraged to contact the Medicaid Helpline at 1-888-692-6116 before visiting a Medicaid office. However, Medicaid offices are open in every borough.

Clients need to apply for Medicaid but are unable to do so because they cannot sign the application remotely and do not have access to a fax machine. Is there a way they can apply without visiting an office?

Facilitated Enrollers can assist clients over the phone and via email. A Facilitated Enroller can also assist clients with submitting their DAB applications. Faxed applications are strongly preferred. For clients that do not have access to a fax, the Facilitated Enroller may be a good option. If these options are not available, an applicant may also submit applications by mail or, as a last resort, in person at one of our Medicaid offices.

If a client’s Cash Assistance case was closed in February, but their Medicaid was still active in March, will their Medicaid case remain open during this time?

Recent cash assistance clients who are eligible for a Medicaid Separate Determination will have their coverage extended. Clients whose cash assistance case closed in February and who had Medicaid coverage through March 31, 2020 will be extended. If coverage was not extended, clients should contact the Medicaid Helpline at 1-888-692-6116.

Emergency Food Programs

What emergency food programs are available for undocumented New Yorkers?

Any New Yorker can receive three free meals a day at one of more than 400 Meal Hubs across the city. Find out more information here.

The City has created the GetFoodNYC food delivery program to provide food for coronavirus (COVID-19)-vulnerable and food-insecure New Yorkers not currently served through existing food delivery programs. Find out more information here.

If you are interested in the location a food pantry, please visit the Food Help NYC pantry locator. We recommend calling to ensure the particular location is open. We’ve provided all of our emergency food providers with information about grab and go meals and how to implement social distancing at food pantries.

Undocumented individuals are also eligible for Pandemic EBT benefits. Qualifying families who have an EBT card will have those benefits automatically loaded onto their EBT card by the State. The State is looking into a way to address the issue of families who do not have an EBT card.

Homelessness Prevention

Can people still apply for CityFHEPS?

Homebase locations are currently closed but are providing their services by phone. Clients can find the phone number for the location that serves their zip code here.

Information on CityFHEPS eligibility for community tenants can be found here. Information on CityFHEPS eligibility for households residing in shelter can be found here.