SNAP Benefits

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

SNAP (formerly Food Stamps) provides low-income households; as well as senior citizens, the disabled, and others; with benefits to purchase food in order to maintain good health. If a person works hard but still struggles to make ends meet, they may be able to supplement their budget with SNAP benefits, depending on household size, income and other factors.


Erie County Work Center
158 Pearl Street
Buffalo, New York 14202

Hours of Operation: 8:00 A.M. - 4:00 P.M. (Clients requesting new EBT card are to report no later than 3:40 p.m.)

The SNAP Call Center was launched in September 2015, an initiative designed to help families receiving nutritional assistance to resolve service issues more quickly. Residents are directed to call 858-7239 to get quick assistance with their SNAP cases. The SNAP Call Center operates between 8:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, except holidays. A Spanish language speaker and language line translation are available for individuals and families in need of those services. Walk-in clients are serviced starting at 8 a.m. and concluding at 4 p.m.; Call Center inquiries are heard until 4:00 p.m.

Effective January 1, 2016, federal change to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) limited the receipt of SNAP benefits to individuals who are determined to be an Able-Bodied Adult without Dependents (ABAWD) to three (3) months in a 36 month period, unless the individual is participating at least 80 hours each month in qualifying work activities.  For 2017, OTDA has approved a limited jurisdictional waiver for specific areas within Erie County.  

An adult individual is exempt from ABAWD requirements if he/she meets one or more of the conditions listed below:

  • A person under 18 years of age, or 50 years of age or older.
  • An adult in a SNAP household with a  child under 18 years of age.
  • A caretaker of an incapacitated person.
  • A pregnant woman.
  • Physically or mentally unable to work 80 hours a month.
  • Participating in a drug/alcohol treatment or rehabilitation program and deemed unable to work.
  • A recipient or pending receipt of Unemployment Insurance Benefits (UIB).
  • A student enrolled in any recognized school, job skills training, or institution of higher education at least half-time and meeting the student eligibility criteria to receive SNAP.
  • An applicant for SNAP benefits and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) jointly or in receipt of SSI.
  • Employed or self-employed and working at least 30 hours per week or receiving weekly earnings at least equal to the federal minimum wage times 30 (currently $217.50 per week).
Failure to comply with these requirements without good cause may result in the ABAWD individual being ineligible for SNAP benefits. If the ABAWD individual meets any of the aforementioned requirements, the individual shoud immediately contact DSS. It is the ABAWD individual's responsibility to make this contact. Good cause includes temporary illness that prevents the individual from working at least 80 hours a month, or another situation that is beyond the individual's control. An individual may also receive SNAP benefits beyond the 3-month limit, if he or she documents that he or she is exempt from the ABAWD requirement. Individuals who believe they should be exempt from the ABAWD requirement for one of these reasons should immediately contact DSS and provide documentation of the exemption.

Who is eligible for SNAP Benefits?

A SNAP household consists of all individuals in the home who claim to purchase and prepare meals together (an applicant must list everyone who lives with them on the application, such as roommates, non-citizens, boarders, and so on). For information related to household eligibility/aid and certain provisions, Click Here

Spouses and their children up to age 22 who live in the same household must apply together.

For most households, eligibility to receive benefits is based on household size, income and some household expenses.

If a person's income is less than or equal to the amounts in the chart supplied (based on family size), the applicant may be eligible for SNAP benefits.

View a list of poverty level guidelines, per the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance. 

How do I apply for SNAP Benefits?

An individual must fill out and submit an application to our agency to be considered for SNAP benefits.

Internet applications can be filed via the link: This site can be used by recipients to file re-certification applications, as well as access and print information related to their household's MyBenefits account, including budget. 

  • Paper applications can be obtained by mail by calling 858-8000.
  • Paper applications can be obtained in person at 158 Pearl St., Buffalo, NY.

Completed applications can be faxed to 858-6834.

Completed applications can be mailed to: Erie County Department of Social Services; P.O. Box 120; Buffalo, NY 14201; Attention: SNAP Division.

Additionally, an applicant can request a mailed application by calling or writing the Erie County Department of Social Services. A SNAP application can also be downloaded from the OTDA site, or an applicant can request that someone pick up an application from the Department of Social Services. 

What are Emergency (Expedited) SNAP Benefits?

Households that are deemed eligible for expedited benefits will receive emergency SNAP benefits within 5 calendar days following the date the application was received in our office (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 initital SNAP benefits within 5 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 Expedite 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.

How and when will I be interviewed?

When the office receives an application, a worker will call the applicant for a telephone interview. The applicant will be notified in writing of the time and date of their phone interview.

If an applicant does not have a working phone number, a face-to-face interview will be scheduled.

During this interview, the number of people in a particular SNAP household and the SNAP household's income will be determined. The amount of SNAP benefits an applicant receives, if they qualify, will depend on this information.

An applicant will have to provide the social security numbers of everyone in their household who is applying for SNAP benefits.

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. View SNAP eligibility factors and required documentation.

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 received 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. For a full overview of language and others services offered by Erie County, Click Here

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 nonfood 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 case on their MyBenefits account, DSS would honor this action. 

Can students receive SNAP?

Most able-bodied students between the ages of 18 and 49 who are enrolled at least half-time in college or another institution of higher education are not eligible for SNAP. However, students may be able to get SNAP, if other eligible, if they have one of the following characteristics:

  • Receive public assistance under the Title IV-A program.
  • Take part in a state or federally financed work-study program.
  • Work on average 20 hours per week.

Additionally, single parents enrolled full time in college and taking care of a dependent household member under the age of 12 can receive SNAP, if otherwise eligible. Students also may be entitled to SNAP, if otherwise eligible, if they are taking care of a dependent household member under the age of 6, or if they are taking care of a dependent household member age 6 through 11 and do not have adequate child care to enable them to attend school and work a minimum of 20 hours per week, or take part in a state or federally financed work-study program.

How do I obtain more information regarding SNAP?

Call the SNAP Call Center at 858-7239 with any questions related to SNAP, except for those regarding previously scheduled interviews. Applicants and recipients can obtain information from the Call Center staff for contacting the assigned examiner for a scheduled certification or re-certification interview. 

Other Resources:

The Summer Food Service Program, for children 18 years or younger, offers free meals at schools, parks, playgrounds, pools and other neighborhood locations through August 2017. To find summer meals near you, or for more information, visit the Hunger Solutions NY website or the USDA Food and Nutrition Service website.

Cardholder portal that allows recipients to check account balance, for cash or SNAP benefits

Information on the Double Up Food Bucks Program, with frequently asked questions and answers. The SNAP EBT acceptance program runs through October 31, 2017 (or the closing day of the market, whatever comes first) at participating local farmers markets.

Educational Video - Eat Smart New York: Eat Better for Less -to help low-income families meet the nutritional needs of their families on a low-cost budget.

In accordance with Federal law and U.S. Department of Agriculture policy, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability.

To file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272 or (202) 720-6382 (TTY). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. FNS 113-1, USDA.