The food stamp program issues monthly benefits redeemable at authorized retail food stores. Eligibility and benefit levels are based on household size, income, assets and other factors. To help with the transition to self-sufficiency, food stamps may be continued for families leaving Temporary Assistance to move into the workplace. The food stamp income eligibility limits enable families earning up to 130% of the poverty level to qualify for the program and there is no time limit for receipt of benefits for families with children.
For eligible households Food Stamps benefits begin the day the application is filed with the department. If you file an application and you meet the rules of the Food Stamp Program, you have a legal right to get them.
Food Stamps are for:
- individuals or families
- people who work for low wages, work part-time or are unemployed
- people who receive TANF or Safety Net
- people who are elderly or disabled and have a limited income
- people who are homeless or are in a shelter for domestic violence
In order to complete the eligibility process, a face-to-face, or phone interview with you or your authorized representative is required. At that time you will need to complete the application form and prove your income, expenses, and other information. Some of the documents or verification you may be asked for are, but not limited to:
- Identity - Birth certificate, driver's license, or other proof of your identity.
- Social Security Cards - For all eligible household members, including children.
- Residence - Rent receipt or lease agreement. If you own your home, bring proof of your mortgage, taxes and insurance. If you live with another individual or family, or you rent a room from someone and you do not purchase and prepare food with this person, you need to get a written statement of your expenses from them.
- Utility Bills - Gas, electric and telephone bills
- Alien Status - If you or someone in your household is a non-US citizen you will need an alien registration card or proof that INS knows you are living in the U.S.
- Bank Accounts - Bring your most recent proof of checking accounts, savings passbooks, credit union records, stocks, bonds, CD's, or IRA and Keogh accounts.
- Earned Income - Pay stubs or a written statement from your employer showing week-by-week gross income, your self-employment records.
- Unearned Income - Most recent copy of Social Security check or copy of award letter; Unemployment Insurance Benefits, Worker's Compensation, Pension, Veterans Benefits, Child Support, Alimony, or other income.
- Child Care Expenses - A canceled check or copy of a money order paid to your child care provider or a written statement from your child care provider.
- Medical Expenses - Bring canceled checks or receipts from medical bill payments to a medical vendor or insurance premiums.
The amount of benefits the household gets is called an allotment and is based on the Thrifty Food Plan. The TFP is based on National Academy of Sciences' Recommended Dietary Allowances, on food choices of low-income households and it changes yearly. The amount of your Food Stamp allotment will depend upon the number and ages of people in your household and the amount of income in your household. Households have to meet income tests unless all members are receiving TANF, SSI, or Safety Net. The general guideline for determining the allotment is to take the net monthly income of the household multiplied by .3. Subtract that result from the maximum allotment for the household size to find the household's allotment. This is because Food Stamp households are expected to spend about 30 percent of their resources on food. The easiest way to find out if you are eligible and what your allotment would be is to apply.
Eligibility for benefits may also be based on other available resources. Households may have $2,000 in countable resources, such as a bank account. If at least one person is age 60 or older, those households may have $3,000 in countable resources. Certain resources are not counted, such as a home and lot and the resources of people who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or benefits under TANF or Safety Net programs.
Expedited Food Stamp Benefits
You may be entitled to expedited food stamp benefits issued within 5 calendar days following the day your application was filed if you meet the requirements.
Food Stamps can only be used for:
- Foods for the household to eat, such as:
- breads and cereals
- fruits and vegetables
- meats, fish and poultry
- dairy products
- Seeds and plants which produce food for the household to eat.
Food Stamps cannot be used for:
- Beer, wine, liquor, cigarettes or tobacco;
- Any nonfood items, such as:
- pet foods
- soaps, paper products
- household supplies
- Vitamins and medicines.
- Food that will be eaten in the store.
- Hot foods
New York State participates in the Electronic Benefits Issuance System. Food Stamp benefits are issued at your grocery store or super market much like a bank debit card is used. NYS OTDA "How to Use Your EBT Card"
For more information, click here:
NYS OTDA Food Stamps