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Frequently Asked Questions

What documentation will be required to complete the eligibility process?
  • Proof of identity.
  • Proof of address, unless an applicant is homeless.
  • Social security number of everyone who is applying. If an applicant does not have a social security number, they will have to apply for one.
  • Proof of the amount of all earned and unearned income before taxes or deductions.
  • Household composition.
  • Proof of shelter costs.
  • Proof of immigration status for non-citizens.
  • Proof of child support payments.
  • Proof of out-of-pocket medical expenses if you are 60 or older or receive federal disability benefits.
  • Proof of child care expenses.
  • If possible, applicants should submit all documentation with their applications.
How and when does the SNAP office make its decision?

The SNAP office must make its decision of a person's eligibility within 30 days of the date of submission. SNAP benefits will usually be issued from the original date of the application. Applicants will be given 10 days after the interview to provide more documents.

Once all the required documentation is received, the examiner will process the case within 30 days of the application date. if required documentation is recieved within 30 days of the application date, SNAP eligibility will begin from the application date.

If required documentation is received between 31 and 60 days from the application date, the case will be opened; however, eligibility will begin from the date from which the documents were received.

If eligible, applicants will be notified of the amount of their SNAP benefits and the period of time for which they are certified, and when benefits will become available. After a case is opened, the applicant's pick-up date each month is the same as a last digit of their case number (i.e. - Case F123456 FF would have a pick-up day on the 6th of every month).

How do I access my SNAP benefits?

If the application is approved, the applicant will receive an identification card and Personnel Identification Number (PIN), which acts much like an ATM card. The ID and PIN are each mailed separately.

Additionally, the Erie County Department of Social Services assists non-English speaking clients by offering free language services, including utilization of qualified interpreters and information written in other languages. Full overview or language and other services offered by Erie County.

What can I purchase with SNAP benefits?

Foods for the household to eat, such as, but not limited to:

  • Breads and cereals.
  • Fruits and vegetables.
  • Meats, fish and poultry.
  • Dairy products.
  • Seeds and plants which produce food for the household to eat.

You cannot purchase:

  • Beer, wine liquor, cigarettes or tobacco.
  • Food that will be eaten in the store.
  • Hot foods.
  • Any non-food items such as pet foods; soaps and paper products; household supplies; and vitamins and medicines.
What do I do if I am no longer in need of SNAP benefits and want to close my SNAP case?

If you want to close your SNAP case, you must contact the Erie County Department of Social Services at 858-7239 or in person at the 3rd floor Reception Window at the Department of Social Services offices at 95 Franklin St., Buffalo, NY 14202. Additionally, if a recipient types in a request to close their cases on their MyBenefits account, DSS would honor this action.

What are Emergency (Expedited) SNAP Benefits?

Households that are deemed eligible for expedited benefits will receive emergency SNAP benefits within 7 calendar days following the date the application was received in our offices (All SNAP applications are screened for emergency eligibility on the day the application is received by the Department of Social Services).

Notification of emergency eligibility will be sent to the applicant.

Households not eligible for expedited processing may still be eligible for the regular SNAP program and will receive an eligibility determination within 30 days of applying.

Even if the SNAP office cannot do a complete eligibility interview for an applicant on the same day an application is filed, an applicant must be screened to determine if they qualify for expedited SNAP. If an applicant is eligible, they must receive initial SNAP benefits within 7 days. The applicant will still have to complete the eligibility process and supply all the required documentation at a later date.

If I am approved for Expedited or Emergency SNAP Benefits, will I continue to receive SNAP benefits from month to month?

Not automatically. In order to continue receiving SNAP benefits, the regular application process must be completed. This means an applicant may be contacted and asked to verify all information listed on the application. If an individual does not follow through, they will not continue to receive SNAP benefits.


09/07/2022 - 10:27 am