New York Uses Telephone Interviews for Food Stamp Recertifications
Updated by Dawn Secor, Food Stamp Specialist, Nutrition Consortium of NYS
June 10, 2009
New York State secured approval from USDA in 2006 to establish a pilot project to test an
approach to make it easier for households to recertify for food stamp benefits.
Initially, USDA granted the NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance’s (OTDA’s) request to conduct a two-year telephone recertification pilot project. The project originally allowed 11 Local Departments of Social Services (LDSSes) and two New York City Human Resource Administrations (HRAs) to conduct telephone interviews at recertification for all non-temporary assistance food stamp households, rather than requiring households to appear in person at the food stamp office for their interview.
Currently, the pilot has expanded throughout upstate leaving only a few counties yet to participate and is fully implemented in New York City.
Why is OTDA conducting this project?
; To improve program access for recipients who have difficulty getting to local social
services offices, such as the elderly, the disabled, working families and households
; To streamline administration for LDSS offices, resulting in timelier processing of
; To provide a more uniform standard for waiving the in-person interview requirement.
Although all households currently have the right to request a telephone interview, the
LDSS considers each request on a case-by-case basis and has much discretion in
deciding who qualifies for a telephone interview.
Which districts are participating?
To see a list of participating counties go to OTDA’s NYS Food Stamp Initiative by Region web page
How does Telephone Recertification work?
The chart which follows outlines the procedures for “regular” and “telephone pilot”
Prepared by the Nutrition Consortium of NYS, updated 6.10.09 1
Regular Recertification Procedure Telephone Recertification Procedure
? Household is mailed a “notice of ? Household is mailed a “notice of
? Notice includes an application/ ? Notice includes an application/
recertification form for the household to recertification form for the household to complete. complete.
? Notice includes a face-to-face interview ? Notice includes a telephone interview
date and time. date and time. It also has a call time request
form for the household to request alternative
dates that are more convenient for them.
? Household is instructed to bring in their ? Household is instructed to mail in their
completed recertification form and any completed recertification form, the call time necessary documentation to their face-to face request form, and any necessary interview. documentation as soon as possible.
? District receives completed recertification
form and reviews it.
? District calls household up to 4 times
prior to the scheduled interview date. If
they reach the household BEFORE the
interview date, the district will either:
-- confirm the interview date/time OR
-- go through with the entire interview (see
If the district cannot reach the household
ahead of time, they will call the household at
the originally scheduled date and time.
? District conducts face-to-face interview. ? District conducts phone interview.
(Worker reviews the completed recertification (Worker reviewed completed recertification form during the interview.) form before calling the household.)
? District advises household what, if any, ? District advises household what, if any,
outstanding documentation is needed. outstanding documentation is needed
? Household submits necessary verification. ? Household submits necessary verification.
? District approves (or denies) recertification. ? District approves (or denies) recertification.
Prepared by the Nutrition Consortium of NYS, updated 6.10.09 2
What happens if the household doesn’t turn in their recertification form or have
This part hasn’t changed from “regular” food stamp rules – your food stamp case will be closed
if you don’t complete the recertification process.
Districts will not contact a household or go through with the scheduled interview if the household hasn’t sent in their signed recertification form. So it’s very important that households return
their completed recertification application as soon as possible.
If the household sends in their recertification form, but the district cannot reach them for their interview, a “notice of missed interview” will be mailed. This notice advises the
household to contact the local district immediately to reschedule their interview if they wish to have their recertification application processed.
Other important points …
; Households still retain the right upon request to have the interview in person, rather
than over the telephone.
; Households in counties not yet participating still retain the right to request a waiver of
the in-person interview requirement on a case-by-case basis, in accordance with 01
ADM-08 and GIS 06 TA/DC 010.
How can community agencies and advocates help?
Community agencies and advocates can help households successfully participate in the telephone recertification pilot by:
; Explaining to households how the telephone recertification process works;
; Encouraging households to promptly return their completed recertification application
forms and any supporting documentation they have;
; Reminding households to be prepared for their phone interview (i.e.: to ensure that
there are as few distractions as possible and that the household has ready access to
related documents and information);
; Faxing documentation to the LDSS;
; Assisting households without phone service (i.e.: providing a phone for the interview,
suggesting they request an in-person interview, etc…) and;
; Making requests for interpretation services on households’ behalf.
Prepared by the Nutrition Consortium of NYS, updated 1-16-2008 3
We are grateful that OTDA has taken this very positive step to make it easier for food stamp recipients to continue receiving benefits.
For additional questions of concerns that you may have about telephone recertification, please contact Dawn Secor at the Nutrition Consortium of NYS via email at
email@example.com or (518) 436-8757, ext. 12.
HRA Policy Bulletin #07-144-ELI: Forms for the Telephone Recertification Pilot
HRA Policy Bulletin #07-122-OPE: Special Mailing to Food Stamp Telephone Recertification Households
Prepared by the Nutrition Consortium of NYS, updated 1-16-2008 4