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SOME SSI RECIPIENTS CAN RECEIVE FOOD STAMPS AUTOMATICALLY

By Carlos Wells,2014-05-28 14:38
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SOME SSI RECIPIENTS CAN RECEIVE FOOD STAMPS AUTOMATICALLY

SOME SSI RECIPIENTS CAN RECEIVE FOOD STAMPS AUTOMATICALLY

    By Cathy Roberts, revised March 2009

    By Dawn Secor, Food Stamp Specialist, Nutrition Consortium of NYS

    The New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) implemented a demonstration project called the New York State Nutrition Improvement Project (NYSNIP) late in 2003. NYSNIP’s goal is to automatically enroll all of New York State’s SSI (Supplemental Security Income) live-alone

    recipients into the Food Stamp Program.

    For this population, no separate food stamp application, no interview and no separate verification is needed; OTDA relies on information provided by the Social Security Administration (SSA) through the State Data Exchange in order to generate a food stamp case. NYSNIP participants use their existing Medicaid benefit card to access their food stamp benefits. Benefit amounts are standardized, and participants can receive food stamps through NYSNIP for as long as 48 months.

Who Can Participate?

NYSNIP is available only to SSI live-alone recipients those classified as “living

    alone” by SSA (i.e. - live by themselves and pay their own food, shelter and clothing expenses). SSI couples and recipients in other living arrangement categories can’t participate in NYSNIP, but they can receive food stamps through

    the regular application process.

    SSI live-alone applicants won’t get food stamp benefits through NYSNIP; only if/when they become SSI recipients will their NYSNIP benefits start. Unlike

    Medicaid or SSI, there is no retroactive NYSNIP eligibility. NYSNIP benefits start

    the first or second month after the first ongoing SSI check is issued.

    Benefit amounts and certification period

    Food stamp benefits under NYSNIP are standardized; the food stamp budget is not individualized. The benefit standards take four factors into consideration: cost of shelter, eligibility for the heating/cooling standard utility allowance, presence of other income and geographic location. A chart listing the NYSNIP benefit standards is attached to this article.

    Adapted from information provided by the NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance

Prepared by the Nutrition Consortium of NYS

    Updated March 2009

One of the guiding principles behind NYSNIP is that participants should get the

    same or more food stamp benefits than they would ordinarily receive through the regular food stamp application process. Anyone who would receive a lower

    amount should be able to “opt out” of NYSNIP, and enter the regular food stamp application process, if they wish.

    New food stamp recipients under NYSNIP will initially receive the minimum benefit level either $56 or $60. However, by filling out and returning a short form included with their NYSNIP opening notice (which asks some questions about the person’s shelter and utility costs), people can get their benefits adjusted up to the maximum food stamp benefit level as high as $200.

    New NYSNIP participants must access their food stamp account within 90 days of case opening. If no food stamp benefits have been redeemed within 60 days, OTDA sends a reminder notice urging the individual to use their food stamp benefits within the next month. The reminder has a list of community agencies that NYSNIP recipients can call for assistance. (Note: The follow-up letters do

    not include all the informational materials contained in the original NYSNIP opening notice, but you can get these materials through the Nutrition Consortium see below.) At the end of the 90 days, if the person still hasn’t accessed any food stamp benefits, OTDA closes the NYSNIP case. This individual has to go through the regular food stamp application process if s/he wants to rejoin NYSNIP.

    The certification period under NYSNIP lasts up to 4 years, with a short mail-in questionnaire required at the midway point. Recipients MUST return this

    questionnaire called an “interim report” -- in order to continue receiving food

    stamps for the remaining 2 year period. Participants who lose SSI live-alone

    status will be taken out of NYSNIP; however, they can still receive regular food stamp benefits, if eligible.

Implementation schedule

    In the initial roll-out of NYSNIP, OTDA enrolled about a quarter of a million SSI live-alone recipients across New York State into NYSNIP. More than half of these individuals (roughly 145,000) had already been receiving food stamps when they were put into the NYSNIP project; their cases were converted from “regular” food stamp cases into NYSNIP cases. (Note: conversion is only supposed to occur for those individuals who would get an equal or higher amount of food stamps through NYSNIP.)

    Adapted from information provided by the NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance

Prepared by the Nutrition Consortium of NYS

    Updated March 2009

Additionally, more than 90,000 new food stamp cases were opened for existing

    SSI live-alone recipients who hadn’t already been receiving food stamps. About 60,000 or 2/3 -- of these individuals accessed their food stamp accounts and continue to receive benefits; the remaining cases closed due to failure to redeem benefits within the requisite time period.

    New SSI live-alone recipients not already in receipt of food stamps are being placed into NYSNIP at the minimum benefit level. Included with their opening notice is the shelter questionnaire (the “NYSNIP Food Stamp Case Information

    Collection Sheet”). Once the local food stamp office receives the person’s completed shelter questionnaire, the food stamp benefits can be adjusted to take into account the person’s shelter and utility expenses. Any new NYSNIP

    participant who fails to access their food stamp account within 60 days will get the reminder notice mentioned above, and have an additional 30 days to access their benefits.

Where can I find out more about NYSNIP?

OTDA has released Local Commissioner’s Memorandum 04-LCM-13, “the New

    York State Nutrition Improvement Project,” and GIS informational messages 05 TA/DC 003, “NYSNIP non-redeemer reminders and attachments” and 06 TA/DC

    012 “New York State Nutrition Improvement Project Benefit Levels.” All are

    posted on OTDA’s website at www.otda.state.ny.us.

    The Nutrition Consortium has a reproduction of the original NYSNIP opening notice “packets” mailed by OTDA, which include a helpful set of Questions and

    Answers, the shelter & utility questionnaire and an EBT brochure. We also have a PDF version of the interim report form. You can get a copy of these materials by contacting Dawn Secor at (518) 436-8757, ext. 12, or e-mailing her at Dawn.Secor@nutritionconsortium.org. Following this article is a quick reference

    guide that lists the major points about NYSNIP, along with a benefit schedule.

    Please pass this information along to other organizations working with elderly and disabled individuals, and help get the word out about NYSNIP!!!

    Adapted from information provided by the NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance

Prepared by the Nutrition Consortium of NYS

    Updated March 2009

    Desk guide about the New York State Nutrition Improvement Project (NYSNIP)

    Prepared by the Nutrition Consortium of NYS revised March 2009

     What is the value of NYSNIP? NYSNIP helps SSI recipients because: 1. the food stamp determination process is automatic: • no separate food stamp application or eligibility interview is required • no additional documentation needs to be collected 2. the benefit should be the same or higher than regular food stamps 3. There is generally a 4-year certification period (as opposed to 1 or 2 years for regular food stamps) Other points to remember about NYSNIP: 1. Only SSI live-alone recipients can participate. 2. Enrollment in NYSNIP is automatic for SSI live-alone recipients, which means that:

     • Even a person who is adamant that they don’t want to get food stamps will have a food stamp case

     opened. This person can simply decline to access the food stamp account, and the NYSNIP case

    will eventually be closed though we would strongly encourage the person to take advantage of the

    program.

    • Anyone placed into NYSNIP who would get more benefits by utilizing the regular application process can “opt out” of NYSNIP and apply for “regular” food stamps. 3. SSI disability applicants should be strongly encouraged to go through the regular food stamp application process, since the disability determination process often takes a long time and because unlike NYSNIP benefits -- regular food stamps are paid retroactive to the application date.

     4. SSI recipients automatically put into NYSNIP at the minimum benefit level should fill out and return

     the shelter questionnaire included with their opening notice, so that their benefits can be adjusted to the highest possible level.

5. Some SSI live-alone recipients may not be even be aware that a food stamp account has been opened on their behalf, if they didn’t receive the original mailing, or they discarded, ignored or simply didn’t understand their notice. 6. NYSNIP recipients can call the state EBT customer service line at 1-888-328-6399 or go to www.ebtaccount.jpmorgan.com to check their food stamp balance or order a new PIN number. Individuals who can’t navigate the hotline or internet site to get a new PIN number can make the request through their

    local food stamp office. Adapted from information provided by the NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance 7. Most NYSNIP participants will receive an interim report (LDSS-4836) after two years. This report Prepared by the Nutrition Consortium of NYS MUST be completed and returned in order for the person to continue receiving food stamps for two more Updated March 2009

     years. Failure to return the LDSS-4836 results in case closing.

    NYSNIP BENEFITS MATRIX BY SHELTER TYPES

    4/1/09

    The New York State Nutrition Improvement Project (NYSNIP) is a pilot project which

    auto enrolls single SSI live-alone recipients into the Food Stamp Program for up to 4

    years.

    HOUSEHOLD MONTHLY FOOD STAMP BENEFIT AMOUNT

    New York City Nassau/Suffolk Upstate

    Shelter Type 94 (High SSI Only $200 $200 $200

    Shelter/SUA) Other Income $200 $200 $200

    Shelter Type 95 (Low SSI Only $200 $200 $185

    Shelter/SUA) Other Income $200 $192 $176

    **Shelter Type 96 SSI Only $200 $200 $200

    (High Shelter/ SUA/$1 Other Income $200 $200 $200

    HEAP)

    **Shelter Type 97 SSI Only $200 $200 $185

    (Low Shelter/ SUA/$1 Other Income $200 $192 $176

    HEAP)

    Shelter Type 98 SSI Only $60 $60 $60

    (No Shelter or SUA Other Income $56 $56 $56

    Data)

    High shelter = More than $229/month

    Low shelter = Less than or equal to $229/month

    SUA = Eligible for Level 1 (heating/cooling) SUA

    **SUA/$1 HEAP = Eligible for Level 1 (heating/cooling)SUA

    No Shelter/ SUA = no information on households shelter costs or heating/cooling

    expenses

    **NOTE CHANGES TO ABOVE TABLE: Shelter types 96 and 97 are now eligible

    for a full SUA. This is due to a new initiative that is providing a $1.00 HEAP benefit to

    all households that live in public or subsidized housing and do not pay their own heating

    or cooling cost. This receipt of a HEAP benefit entitles a food stamp household to have

    the full SUA applied to their food stamp budget. This is true for all food stamp

    households’, not just seniors.

    Adapted from information provided by the NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance

    Prepared by the Nutrition Consortium of NYS

    Updated March 2009

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