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11/18/13: Erie County Statement on Unusual SNAP Benefit Payments


ERIE COUNTY, NY— Today, the Poloncarz administration released the following statement regarding the recent news that some individuals receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (“SNAP”) benefits had received benefits in excess of their normally-allocated amounts:

“Over the weekend, it was brought to our attention that certain individuals who receive regular SNAP benefits via an electronically loaded card had in fact received benefits in amounts exceeding their normal allocation. Upon learning of this, Erie County immediately contacted New York State and commenced an investigation into the nature of these payments to learn if they were made erroneously or were being issued as part of the Richard C. v. Berlin lawsuit settlement, which grants a one-time SNAP benefit payment to certain eligible recipients affected by that lawsuit.

We have learned that indeed these payments were made as part of the settlement, and that payment recipients will be receiving letters notifying them of the one-time benefit. We are currently working with the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (“OTDA”), the issuers of the benefit, to determine the number of Erie County residents affected by the one-time payment and the total amount of benefits issued. However, all benefits received from this settlement must be accessed within 365 days from the date of authorization.

SNAP benefits can only be used to purchase food for human consumption, and cannot be used for any non-food items such as pet foods, household supplies, electronics, alcohol & tobacco, or cosmetics & grooming items. SNAP benefits cannot be withdrawn in the form of cash from an ATM, nor can participants receive cash back at the time of register purchase.

Erie County continues to advise all SNAP recipients that the County can track each card to its lawful recipient and can determine how and where each card is used. The person to whom each card is issued is responsible for how it is used. A recipient who knowingly abuses their card or allows anyone else to use their card is guilty of a crime. The recipient and anyone they allow to misuse a card will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Furthermore, any individual who sells or transfers ownership of a benefit card will be subject to civil and criminal penalties.”

Individuals with questions about this payment should call 1-(888)-959-0797.