SNAP Eligibility Cheat Sheet


The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) was previously referred to as “food stamps.” SNAP is intended to give assistance to low-income families struggling to buy groceries. The program is state-regulated, but federally funded. SNAP provides aid to low-income households, senior citizens, individuals with disabilities and others who meet the program qualifications.

What Are the eligibility requirements for SNAP?

Eligibility for SNAP takes household incomes, availability of resources, all deductions for households and employment requirements into consideration. Additional rules apply for any seniors or disabled individuals receiving government benefits. Applicants must meet every one of the requirements in order to qualify for the program. To qualify for SNAP in New York, applicants must also be residents of the state.

What is PRWORA?

The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) was enacted in 1996 to limit the length of time in which eligible families could receive Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) and to establish work requirements for able-bodied adults. It also made major changes to the food stamps program, or SNAP. Originally, in order to fight the “war on drugs,” SNAP and TANF benefits banned individuals that had been convicted of felonies involving drugs.

States were given the discretion to choose to modify the ban, to uphold the ban in its entirety or to opt out completely. The modified bans were generally to allow individuals who were convicted of drug use, but not those convicted of the manufacturing or the sale of drugs. The state of New York chose to completely opt out of the ban.

Applying For SNAP In New York

Applicants may apply for SNAP through the nearest SNAP office, by phone, by mail or by faxing in the application. To find the closest SNAP location, download our free guide. When filling out a SNAP application, make certain to answer all questions on the application as that can slow the application process down. Recheck it for accuracy, then sign it before sending it in.

What is involved in the SNAP process?

The application process for SNAP starts officially when the application is received. It is reviewed and information, such as income, is verified. The SNAP office will then contact the applicant and conduct an interview. A SNAP representative will then either ask for more information or make a determination about the application.

Keep the following in mind when filling out the SNAP application:

  • Print the information clearly on the application
  • Do not write anything in shaded areas of the form
  • Make certain to fill out all sections pertinent to your household
  • Always use appropriate legal names, not nicknames, on the application
  • If someone helped to fill out the application, have that person sign the application, too

If there are any items on the application that are confusing, contact the Social Services District (SSD) to ask for assistance. Help may be provided over the phone, or petitioners may visit the SNAP office in person for aid with completing the application.

Documents for SNAP Applications

When submitting the application for SNAP, there are certain documents that must be provided. Personal identification, proof of residence, birth certificates, bank statements, last year’s tax returns and other documents may suffice. Be prepared in case the SNAP clerk requests other documentation. Remember that supporting documentation will be needed not just for the applicant, but for all household members included on the applications.

Denial of SNAP Benefits

When an application is determined to be ineligible for SNAP benefits, a denial letter is mailed to the applicant. The letter states the reason or reasons for the denial, along with information about how to appeal the decision. It also includes a deadline date for requesting an appeal hearing.

First, determine if the reason for the denial sounds correct or not. The reason can be as simple as failure to provide requested documentation. If the petitioner believes the reason is not valid, he or she can request an appeal hearing by following the instructions on the denial letter.

Petitioners need to be ready with documentation supporting their arguments for why the denial decisions should be reversed. If uncertain about how to present evidence, they may wish to speak with legal representation for advice. Many of these attorneys who act as advocates for low-income families offer discounted rates for consultations.