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«cash assistance Benefits Plus Learning Center Community Service Fighting Poverty i Society Strengthening New York The Community Service Society of ...»

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for low-income individuals and families

applying for and using

public benefit programs

cash assistance

Benefits Plus




Service Fighting Poverty i

Society Strengthening

New York

The Community Service Society of New York (CSS), a non-partisan social services agency, has

been in the forefront of the fight against poverty for over 170 years. It has pioneered programs

for school children, low-income tenants, health care patients, immigrants and poor people of every color and race throughout its history. At the midway point of its second century, CSS continues to do research on the causes and solutions to poverty-induced problems and to provide needy people with direct emergency help. Using advocacy and court challenges, CSS works to effect societal changes to improve the lives of those in poverty and empower them to provide better conditions for their children and communities.

The Benefits Plus Learning Center provides high-quality training, publications and consultation services to community based organizations in NYC that work with families and individuals in need of public benefit and housing programs. The training, publications and resources provided enable social service professionals to navigate a difficult and complex public benefits system on their clients’ behalf. Their premier publication, Benefits Plus, is a comprehensive online resource manual to federal, state and local government benefit and housing programs.

Community Service Society of New York 105 East 22nd Street New York, NY 10010 http://benefitsplus.cssny.org ii Cash Assistance Benefits Plus Learning Center


Can be copied without CSS permission Publication of this brochure was made possible with funding from the Booth Ferris Foundation Last Updated: April 2015 Cash Assistance What is Cash Assistance?

Cash Assistance (CA), or welfare, is a monthly cash benefit to help poor people pay for their most basic costs of living (like rent, clothes and transportation).

Which government agency is in charge of Cash Assistance?

The Human Resources Administration (HRA) is the government agency that manages CA in NYC.

Are there different Cash Assistance programs?

There are basically two programs within the Cash Assistance benefit. They are the Family Assistance program and the Safety Net Assistance program.

What is Family Assistance?

Family Assistance (FA) is mainly for households that have  Children under 18 years of age (or under 19 if still in high school full-time) and who are living with a relative who is taking care of him or her, or.

 Pregnant women with no other children How long can I receive Family Assistance?

Family Assistance can last for a total of 5 years.

What happens at the end of the 5 years?

At the end of the five years, if your household still needs help, you can transfer to the Safety Net Assistance program. But first you must apply for Safety Net Assistance and go to the Job Center for a reassessment/ application interview.

Cash Assistance Will the amount of my benefits change when I switch from Family Assistance to Safety Net Assistance?

No the amount of your benefits will not change, as long as you still have children under 18 in your household, your household income has not changed, and your family size has not changed.

What is Safety Net Assistance?

Safety Net Assistance is for single adults or couples without children. But as discussed above, it is also for families who have been on Family Assistance for five years.

How long does Safety Net Assistance last?

Safety Net Assistance lasts as long as the household continues to be eligible, there are no time limits.

How do I get my benefits?

Whether you receive Family Assistance or Safety Net Assistance your rent will be paid directly to the landlord. In some instances, your utility bills will also be paid directly to the company The rest of the grant will be given to you on a plastic benefit card, EBT card. The EBT card works like a debit card. The amount of money that is left after the rent and utility bills are paid will be the amount that will be on the card.

If I move to another state, will I be eligible for Cash Assistance (CA)?

That depends. You will no longer be eligible for CA in NYS and you will have to apply for CA in your new state.

As described above there is a 5-year time limit for families receiving Family Assistance. When you have reached 5 years in one state, you have reached your 5-year time limit in all states. This means that if you have received 5 years of Family Assistance in NYS and move to another state you are not eligible for Family Assistance in that state.

Some states may provide a program like the Safety Net Assistance program that will allow a family with children to continue to receive benefits after receiving 5 years of Family Assistance. But each state has its own rules and you will have to find out what the new state’s rules are.

How Much Does Cash Assistance (CA) Pay?

The amount of the CA benefit depends on many things, such as how many people are in your home, whether there are children under 18 or not, the amount of rent you pay, and whether there is other income in your household. The CA benefit has three parts: the Basic Allowance, the Home Energy Allowance, and the Shelter Allowance.

The shelter allowance for households with children is different from the shelter allowance for households without children, however, the basic allowance is the same whether you get Family Assistance or Safety Net Assistance.

The two charts below show the basic allowance, the home energy allowance, and shelter allowance for households with children and households without children.

–  –  –

You can receive more money (called allowances) if you are pregnant, or if you are buying food at a restaurant because you don’t have a stove in your home, or if you need to replace clothes that were lost in a fire or other disaster, or other type of emergencies.

What if my rent is less than what is listed in the chart?

If you have rent that is less than what is listed in the chart you will only receive the amount of your actual rent. For example, if there are 2 people in your household, a mother and a young child, and your rent is $225, CA will pay you $225 for your rent. You will still get $252 for your basic allowance and $39.50 for your home energy allowance. But your total grant will be $516.50, not $574.50.

What if my rent is more than what is listed in the chart?

If my rent is more than what is listed in the chart, the amounts listed here are the most that CA will pay.

Are there any exceptions?

Yes, there is an exception. Some families receive extra rent money through a program called FEPS.

–  –  –

How do I get FEPS?

The get FEPS you must  Be receiving Cash Assistance;

 Have children under the age of 18 living with you (or 18 and a fulltime high school student);

 Be in housing court;

 Have unpaid rent because your rent is higher than the CA shelter levels o You may have other situations, like a foreclosure proceeding, or a government vacate order that may also qualify you for FEPS.

o FEPS may also be available for a move in a “holdover case,” in which the court proceeding is not specifically an eviction for nonpayment of rent, but the landlord is demanding possession of the apartment for other reasons and is also claiming rent arrears.

 Have rent arrears of no more than $7,000, although exceptions are allowed in very limited cases.

 Have no one in sanction status  Be the tenant of record and have a lease or obtain a written agreement allowing you stay for at least one year  Have rent that is no more than what is listed in the chart below

–  –  –

How do I apply for FEPS?

You must apply at a community agency that has been trained in helping people apply for FEPS. Call the Benefits Plus Information Line at 212-614to get a listing of community agencies.

How Do I Get My Cash Assistance Grant?

You can usually get your grant through the system called Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT). Under this system, you will receive a plastic benefit card with the amount of your cash grant programmed into that card.

Where can I use my EBT card?

You can use this card at various places around the city to get your cash grant. Some of these places charge a fee; but there should be a place not too far from your home that will provide the cash without charging a fee.

These ATM’s will have a QUEST logo with a “$” sign.

You can get up to two free withdrawals every month at these ATM’s. After that you will be charged $.45 cents every time you get cash. To find free EBT locations call (800) 289-6739.

Where else can I use my card?

You can use your EBT card to buy non-food items (toothpaste, personal items, etc) at grocery stores, as long as they have the Quest logo displayed in their store window.

What if I have SNAP benefits and Medicaid?

Your SNAP benefits will also be programmed into this benefit card as well as your Medicaid. The other members of your household will each receive their own Medicaid card, but only the head of household will have all three benefits on their card.

How will I use this card?

You will receive a personal identification number (PIN) that you must enter in the ATM machine to get your cash. You must also enter your PIN into the machine at the cash register to purchase food at a food market. Stores where you can use your food stamps have a QUEST logo with a food bag.

What if I am having problems with EBT?

There are three ways to get help, you can:

1. Call the Customer Service Helpline at 888-328-6399, the number that is on the back of your card. You can get information on your cash or SNAP balances, getting a new PIN, reporting errors, whether shelter payments have been issued, and reporting lost, stolen or damaged cards.

2. Go to your local Job Center where you can request an authorized representative, replace a lost or stolen card, and for when your card is not working properly.

3. Go online at https://www.ebt.acs-inc.com. You need to register the first time you log on. Once logged on, you will be able to get the same information as listed above.

If you have any other questions about how to use your EBT card see the EBT brochure at: http://www.otda.state.ny.us/main/ebt/ Who Can Get Cash Assistance?

You can get Cash Assistance if you and your family members who are living with you pass certain eligibility tests, called eligibility criteria. These criteria are explained below.

How Much Income Can I Have?

You must have limited income.

What is income?

Income is a recurring payment from any source such as salary, Social Security, a pension, unemployment insurance, disability benefits, bank interest or any other sources of income.

What happens if I am over the income limits?

If you are over the income limits you are likely to be ineligible for Cash Assistance.

What are the income limits?

Cash Assistance income rules are complicated. Your eligibility for CA depends on how many people are in your home, whether you have children under age 18 living with you, and whether the income is from a job or from somewhere else. If your income is above the amounts listed in the charts below, you may not be eligible. However, CA may not count all of the income you have in your household.

–  –  –

How does CA count different types of income?

This is quite complicated. For example CA will subtract certain deductions such deductions for work, foster care or adoption subsidies, a part of child support you may receive. There are other kinds of deductions as well.

That is why if you are not sure you should apply.

How Many Resources Can I Own?

You must have limited resources.

What are resources?

Resources are assets or possessions that you own or have partial interest in. Some examples of resources include a home, an automobile, life insurance policies, savings or checking accounts, CD’s, or IRA’s. This is not a complete list.

What are the maximum amounts of resources I can own?

A household is allowed to have no more than $2,000 in resources or no more than $3,000 if someone in the household is older than 60 years.

What kind of resources does CA count?

 Any property that you own, if you are not living in it as your primary residence  Funds in bank accounts, stock accounts, bonds or other financial instruments which can be readily turned into cash and which are more than the amounts listed  All the money in a joint bank account, unless you are able to show that it belongs to someone else  Jewelry or other goods that have resale value.

Are there resources that CA does not count?

There are some types of resources that CA does not count when they determine your eligibility. This is not a complete list, but will give you an idea of what does not count under the rules.

 The home you own as long as you live in it, it can be a house, a condo, or a coop, but CA will make you sign a “lien”.

 Personal and household goods: furniture, kitchen utensils, clothing, television, stereo and other household equipment and furnishings  A wedding or engagement ring  Family burial plot for each member of the household  A car worth up to $4,650, if it is used for work activities (such as a job, looking for a job or job training), then it can have a value up to $9,300  Tools or other equipment used for work.

What is a lien?

This means that if you sell your house, Cash Assistance (HRA) will be able to take some of the money from the sale of the house to pay itself back for the benefits they gave you.

Do I Have To Be A Certain Age, or Be Disabled, or Have Children To Get Cash Assistance?

CA is supposed to help people in need no matter how old you are, whether or not you are disabled, and whether or not you have children. There are different cash assistance programs for people in different situations, but that is for the CA worker to figure out.

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