Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP)
SNAP is the new name for the Food Stamp Program
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is the new name for the Food Stamp Program (effective August 29, 2012). SNAP issues monthly electronic benefits that can be used like the cash to purchase food at authorized retail food stores. Eligibility and benefit levels are basedon household size, income, assets and other factors.
Purpose and Filing an application
The purpose of the SNAP-Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is to reduce hunger and malnutrition for low-income households. The SNAP Program is a nationwide federal entitlement program. This means any person has the right to file an application for SNAP either directly, through an authorized representative, or by mail.
You have the right to have your application accepted right away; even before you meet with an eligibility worker. Only your name, address, and signature need to be completed on the state prescribed form, which is obtainable from the following locations:
Chautauqua County Department of Social Services
319 Central Ave
Dunkirk, NY 14048
Phone: (716) 363-3538
Chautauqua County Department of Social Services
110 East Fourth St.
Jamestown, NY 14701
Phone: (716) 661-8200
For eligible households SNAP benefits begin the day the application is filed with the department. You may need to hae a phone interview to determine if you are eligible. If you file an application and you meet the rules of the SNAP Program, you have a legal right to receive them.
SNAP benefits 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, an interview with you or your authorized representative is required. At that time, the application will be reviewed and you must provide proof of 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 an 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.
- 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.
- 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 SNAP 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 TA, SSI, or Safety Net.
Expedited SNAP Benefits
You may be entitled to benefits issued within 5 calendar days following the day your application was filed with the Department if you meet certain criteria:
New York State participates in the Electronic Benefits Issuance System. SNAP benefits are issued at your grocery store or super market much like a bank debit card is used.
SNAP benefits 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.
SNAP benefits 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