Family Assistance Safety Net
Emergency Assistance
Emergency Assistance
to Adults
Emergency Assistance
to Families
Emergency Safety
Net Assistance
Victims of
Domestic Violence
Applications Who is NOT eligible
for Public Assistance
Substance Abuse

For information on the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) click here

Public Assistance

Family Assistance (FA)

provides cash assistance to needy families that include a minor child living with a parent (including families where both parents are in the household) or a caretaker relative. FA operates under federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) guidelines. 
Under FA, eligible adults are limited to receiving benefits for a total of 60 months in their lifetime, including months of TANF-funded assistance granted in other states. Once this limit is reached, that adult and all members of his or her FA household are ineligible to receive any more FA benefits. The months need not be consecutive, but rather each individual month in which TANF-funded benefits are received is included in the lifetime count. The counting of this 60-month limit began in December, 1996. 
Parents and other adult relatives who can work must be working or involved in work-like activities after receiving FA benefits for two years, or sooner if the local department of social services decides they can work earlier. 

Parents are also responsible for cooperating with the local department of social services in locating any absent parent. Non-cooperation without good cause could result in lower benefits.

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Safety Net Assistance (SNA)

was established under the New York State Welfare Reform Act of 1997 and replaces the Home Relief program.  This program provides assistance to individuals and families who do not qualify for the FA program.  Benefits are provided as cash for 24 months.  After 24 months benefits may continue as non-cash payment (vendor check or voucher).

If you are not eligible for other assistance programs, you may be eligible for SNA. SNA is for: 

  • Single adults
  • Childless couples
  • Children living apart from any adult relative
  • Families of persons abusing drugs or alcohol
  • Families of persons refusing drug/alcohol screening, assessment or treatment
  • Persons who have exceeded the 60-month limit on assistance
  • Aliens who are eligible for temporary assistance, but who are not eligible for federal reimbursement

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Emergency Assistance Programs

An emergency is an urgent need or situation that has to be taken care of right away.  Some examples of an emergency are: 
  • You are homeless
  • You have little or no food
  • Your landlord has told you that you must move or has given you eviction papers
  • You do not have fuel for heating in the cold weather period
  • Your utilities are shut-off or are about to be shut-off, or you have a 72-hour disconnect notice
  • You or someone in your family has been beaten, abused or threatened with violence by a husband, wife, partner or other member of the household.

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Emergency Assistance to Adults (EAA)

provides assistance to individuals in receipt of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) who are facing emergency situations such as homelessness, utility or fuel emergencies or other items of need.

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Emergency Assistance to Families (EAF)

provides assistance to families to meet emergency situations that are sudden, not foreseen and beyond their control.  Such needs may include but are not limited to, homelessness, fuel needs and utility shut offs.  The household must include a minor child who is without immediately accessible resources to meet his needs.

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Emergency Safety Net Assistance (E-SNA)

provides assistance to persons not eligible for recurring public assistance benefits, EAA or EAF.  The individual or family must present an emergency need and be without immediately available income or resources to meet the emergency.  The income standard for E-SNA is 125% of the Federal Income Poverty Line.

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Eligibility Requirements

vary depending on the program and are set by Federal and State Regulation.  Household composition and residence, income and resources, living arrangements and expenses, employability and alien status are some of the factors which will be explored to determine eligibility for assistance.  An application must be completed and an eligibility determination made prior to the granting of benefits.  Adult applicants for FA and SNA must be screened for substance abuse.  Those individuals assessed to be in need of treatment must comply with an approved treatment plan in order to remain eligible for benefits.

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Victims of Domestic Violence

will be screened and their needs assessed.  In certain instances, based upon the recommendation of the DV Liaison some eligibility requirements may be waived for a period of time in order to allow the individual and/or family to re-establish themselves safely.

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for Public Assistance programs are taken at the

Department of Social Services
60 Charles Lindbergh Blvd.
Uniondale, NY  11553

Public hours are Monday through Friday from 8:00A.M. to 4:00 P.M.

Applications for all Public Assistance Programs are taken at this site.

After an application is filed, an appointment will be made for an eligibility interview.  The applicant will be asked to supply documentation to verify the information on the application form.  All household members aged 18 years or older will be finger imaged.  Determination of the application is made within 30 days, and the applicant will be notified of the decision by letter.  Individuals who have an immediate, emergency need will be interviewed on the date of application and the need will be met for those eligible applicants.

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Who are NOT eligible for Public Assistance?

There are some individuals who are not eligible for Temporary Assistance.  Examples of ineligible individuals would be those people 
  • Who are under the age of 18 and not married with a child over 12 weeks of age in their care and who have not successfully completed high school or its equivalent. However, you will satisfy the educational requirement if you are working towards a high school diploma or its equivalent, or participating in an alternative program approved by the Department.
  • Who have been convicted in federal court of having made a fraudulent statement or representation with respect to their place of residence in order to receive Temporary Assistance from two or more states. The period of ineligibility is for ten years.
  • Who are fleeing to avoid prosecution, or custody or confinement for a crime, or attempts to commit a crime under the laws of the place from which the individual flees. This is true if the crime is a felony under the laws of the place from which the individual flees. In the case of the State of New Jersey, a crime is a high misdemeanor under the laws of such state.
  • Who are violating a condition of probation or parole imposed under federal or state law.
  • Who are illegal aliens, undocumented aliens or aliens with a temporary immigration status.

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Temporary Assistance Substance Abuse Treatment Requirements

State law and OTDA regulations require that all heads of household and all adult applicants and recipients of public assistance are to be screened to identify possible alcohol/drug abuse problems. 
New York State's Welfare Reform Act of 1997 requires screening, assessment and treatment for adult applicants/recipients with alcoholism and/or substance abuse problems. 
OTDA regulations require that: 
  • all adult applicants/recipients and heads of households be screened for alcohol/drug abuse issues;
  • all adult applicants/recipients and heads of households who screen positive must be assessed (the assessment may include drug testing as a SSD option) by a person who bears an alcohol/substance abuse counselor credential, currently in good-standing, issued by the Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) for alcohol/substance abuse problems; and
  • all adult applicants/recipients and heads of households who are determined to be not employable due to alcohol/drug abuse (as determined by the formal assessment) must participate in appropriate alcohol/drug rehabilitation treatment as a condition of eligibility for public assistance. 

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Adult: An adult is considered any individual in the household age 18 or older who is applying for or in receipt of public assistance. Individuals age 18 who are participating in a full-time secondary school or in the equivalent level of vocational or technical training are not considered adults for the purposes of screening, assessment and treatment for alcoholism/substance abuse. 
Appropriate Treatment Program: To be considered an appropriate treatment program, the program must: 
  • Be licensed or certified by OASAS or operated by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs and be determined by the social services official to meet the rehabilitation needs of the individual.
  • Provide the social services district, at a minimum of every three months, a treatment progress report for each public assistance recipient.
  • Request the approval of the social services district responsible for payment prior to changing an individual's level of treatment care.

What is the purpose of the screening? 

The screening is conducted to identify adult members of households or heads of households who potentially have a alcohol/drug abuse problem that may impact their employability. 

When are public assistance recipients screened for alcohol/substance abuse issues? 

Public assistance recipients (heads of households and all adult members) are screened at time of application and, at a minimum, whenever there is evidence to indicate potential alcohol and/or substance abuse. Social Services Districts may routinely screen public assistance recipients on a schedule determined by the SSD, provided the policy is applied consistently and is no more frequently than every six months. 

Does the social services district use a standardized form to screen individuals? 

Yes, all districts use a screening form (DSS-4571), which was developed by OASAS as required by New York State law. 

If an adult member of a household screens positive, must he/she participate in a formal assessment? 

Yes, if the adult screens positive, they must participate in the formal assessment, or they will be removed from the public assistance case. 

What is the purpose of the formal assessment? 

The formal assessment is to determine if:

  • if the individual is abusing alcohol/drugs; and 
  • if abuse is found, whether the individual is able to work or not, and
  • if abuse is found and the individual is unable to work because of the abuse, the appropriate level of care.

If the assessment determines that the individual is not employable as a result of their alcohol/drug abuse problem, must they comply with prescribed treatment? 

Yes, if the individual is determined not employable as a result of their alcohol/drug abuse problem, he/she must comply with appropriate treatment or be removed from the public assistance case.

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Department of Social Services General Information: (516) 227-8519

Related Links:

New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA)

New York State (OTDA) Temporary Assistance

New York State (OTDA) Public Assistance Alcohol and Drug Provisions

New York State (OTDA) Domestic Violence / Family Violence Option