- “Adult” is an individual age 18 or older.
- “Senior” is an individual age 60 or older.
- “Person with a Disability” is anyone determined to be disabled by the Social Security Administration and most likely receiving a federally related disability benefit including, but not limited to:
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Social Security Disability (SSD)
- Disability-related Medicaid
- Veterans Administration (VA) Disability 100%
Elderly Simplified Application Project (ESAP)
In order to simplify and improve access to and participation in SNAP for older adults and adults with disabilities, NYS applied to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and has been approved to implement ESAP for this population as of December 2021.
ESAP provides a simplified application, more data matching for needed documents, a longer certification period, and for most no interview at recertification for eligible senior/disabled households.
Who Is Eligible for ESAP
- all adult members must be a senior and/or disabled (and not eligible for NYSNIP or NYSCAP), and
- have no earned income.
Households fitting the above criteria that include children and/or disabled children can participate in ESAP.
Benefits of ESAP
Households eligible to participate in ESAP will be provided:
- Data matching and relaxed rules for needed verification
- 36-month certification period with a non-mandatory interim report
- No interview at recertification
How to Apply for ESAP
Applicants can use the new simplified paper application (LDSS-5166) with an easy-to read pamphlet (to help senior/disabled households better understand medical deductions), or apply online through myBenefits or Access HRA portals.
New applications for SNAP that meet the ESAP criteria will be placed into ESAP. These households will receive a notice that includes the benefits of ESAP and the extension of the certification period.
Households already receiving SNAP and meeting ESAP criteria will be placed into ESAP at their next recertification, as long as they continue to be eligible for SNAP.
ESAP Interview Rules for Application and Recertification
Applications: ESAP-eligible households are required to have an initial application interview when applying for SNAP, like all other SNAP applicants.
Recertifications: ESAP-eligible households are NOT required to complete a recertification interview, but may request one. However ESAP-eligible households must submit a completed recertification application and any required documents to receive ongoing SNAP benefits.
ESAP households will get an ESAP-specific Notice of Expiration (NOE) informing them that a recertification interview is not required and that the SNAP office must determine if they are eligible for continued SNAP benefits. The NOE includes instructions on how to request an interview.
SNAP Offices must offer ESAP-eligible households a recertification interview in the following situations:
1. Before an ESAP recertification application can be denied for any reason other than a failure to submit a recertification application.
- ESAP-eligible households who do not return a recertification application will have their SNAP case closed for failure to recertify, like any other SNAP case.
2. When information on the ESAP recertification application is questionable.
- Anytime there is questionable information and further clarification is needed, the ESAP-eligible household will receive a notification of a scheduled interview appointment (upstate) or instructions on how to complete a telephone interview (NYC).
3. Upon request by the ESAP household.
It is important to remember that SNAP offices cannot deny an ESAP recertification application without first offering a recertification interview to the household.
Upstate: SNAP offices will use the LDSS-5181 ESAP Interview Notice Letter in both English and Spanish. The LDSS-5181 informs the household:
- Their scheduled interview date and time,
- Their case will be closed if they don’t complete an interview,
- Information provided on their recertification application indicates they are no longer eligible for SNAP, and
- They are being offered a chance to be interviewed to correct any incorrect information before their SNAP case is closed.
NYC: SNAP offices will include the following information when notifying ESAP households:
- Their SNAP case will close at recertification unless they complete an interview to determine eligibility,
- This information is similar to the existing Z95 notice, but contains ESAP-specific language explaining the need for the interview, and
- Provides instructions on where to call to complete an interview over the phone.
- This language will be included in the ESAP closing notices sent to any ESAP cases except those ESAP households being closed for failure to submit a recertification application.
Data Matching and Other Simplifications
Participating ESAP households are still required to provide the following documentation:
- Proof of residency,
- Out-of-pocket medical expenses over $35,
- Non-federal/state sources of unearned income, and
- Any questionable information.
Unless questionable, participating ESAP households may self-declare the following expenses:
- Standard Utility Allowances (SUA), and
- All other shelter-related expenses (e.g., rent, mortgage, taxes, and insurance on the dwelling).
SNAP offices are required to use computer matches and available systems to verify the following circumstances of ESAP-eligible households:
- Unearned income,
- Date of birth,
- Social Security Number, and
- If appropriate, to ensure the household has no earned income.
Non-mandatory Interim Report
Households participating in ESAP will receive a non-mandatory interim report (LDSS-3151 SNAP Change Report Form) at the midpoint (18 months) of their 36-month certification period. This form does NOT need to be returned and the SNAP office may not take a negative action against the ESAP household for not returning this form.
- ESAP households may use this form to report changes—especially those that will increase their SNAP benefits.
- Changes that increase the household’s SNAP benefit must be acted upon and verified using resources and data matching or, if needed, documents from the household.
- No negative actions can be taken against the household for failure to verify the changes, but these will be looked into at the next recertification.
Other Reporting Requirements
Due to simplified reporting requirements, ESAP households don’t have to report most changes until their next recertification (36 months). However, the following changes must be reported within ten days of the beginning of the month following the month in which the change took place:
- Change in household composition. Whenever a person leaves or is added to an ESAP household, this should be reported because it may affect the household’s eligibility for ESAP. If all adults are not 60 or older and/or disabled, the household would no longer be eligible for ESAP and should be transitioned to regular SNAP if eligible.
- Receipt of earned income. If any member of the ESAP household begins receiving earned income this should be reported, as households receiving earned income are not eligible for ESAP.
- Substantial lottery or gambling winnings. SNAP rules require that all SNAP households must report substantial lottery or gambling winnings. Substantial lottery or gambling winnings are defined as a cash prize equal to or greater than the maximum allowable resources test for senior/disabled households—currently $4,250—won in a single game before taxes or other withholdings.
Households Who No Longer Meet ESAP Criteria
Households that no longer meet the criteria for ESAP will need to leave the project; these households are referred to as “leavers”.
Leavers who remain eligible for SNAP, but not ESAP:
- Keep the balance of their original 36-month certification period until the next recertification, and are
- No longer are granted any of the other ESAP flexibilities.
- Are subject to the regular reporting requirements that would apply to the household based on its circumstances when it leaves ESAP.
ESAP Outreach by OTDA
As part of this project, OTDA will collaborate with community partners and the New York State Office of the Aging (SOFA) to inform and engage the ESAP-eligible population. The purpose of this outreach is to inform ESAP-eligible households about the project, provide ESAP applications, help with the initial certification and recertification processes, and help clients understand and verify allowable medical costs.
To support this outreach, a new brochure has been developed to assist ESAP households with understanding the role certain allowable medical expenses may have on their SNAP benefit amount. PUB-5176, “It’s Easy for Older and Disabled Adults to Get SNAP – Deducting Medical Expenses for SNAP” explains that certain verified out-of-pocket medical costs that total more than $35 can be deducted from countable income which could result in some recipients receiving additional SNAP benefits each month. The brochure contains examples of deductible medical costs, information about the simplified application process for ESAP, and information needed to complete the application.
NYSNIP and NYSCAP
For two decades New York has operated a Combined Application Project (CAP) called the New York State Nutrition Improvement Project (NYSNIP), which automatically enrolls single Supplemental Security Income (SSI) live-alone recipients into SNAP. No separate SNAP application, interview, or verification are needed to be automatically enrolled.
From December of 2021 and through December 1, 2024, NYS is transitioning from NYSNIP to a new CAP called the New York State Combined Application Project (NYSCAP). The information here highlights both NYSNIP and NYSCAP including who can participate, how the two CAPs differ, and how the transition from NYSNIP to NYSCAP will be implemented.
What Is a CAP
CAPs are a partnership between the Social Security Administration (SSA), the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)/Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), and state and local agencies to streamline SNAP application procedures for individuals receiving SSI benefits. The projects are designed to strengthen access to nutrition benefits for this vulnerable population.
NYS uses the standard CAP model which includes simplified joint SNAP/SSI application processing by SSA as individuals apply for or are recertified for SSI. CAPs use standard benefit amounts and/or standard shelter expenses in the benefit calculation and require evaluations to ensure cost neutrality is maintained.
NYSNIP to NYSCAP
Since 2014, OTDA has struggled to comply with the cost neutrality requirements of a CAP. For this reason, NYS submitted a waiver request to USDA/FNS to implement a new revised SSI CAP that will be simpler, more cost-neutral, and easier to evaluate for cost neutrality in the future. This new CAP is called NYSCAP.
NYSNIP and NYSCAP will run concurrently through December 1, 2024. After December 1, 2024, all NYSNIP participants will have been moved into NYSCAP.
Automatic Enrollment into NYSNIP/NYSCAP
CAPs have an automatic enrollment process that uses data matching to enroll single Supplemental Security Income (SSI) live-alone recipients into SNAP. No separate SNAP application, interview, or verification are needed to be automatically enrolled.
The SNAP office/HRA center uses monthly data matching to find eligible NYSNIP/NYSCAP participants from the list of newly approved SSI recipients in NYS.
NYSNIP/NYSCAP is available only to:
- SSI live-alone recipients—those classified as “living alone” by Social Security Administration (SSA) (i.e., live by themselves and pay their food, shelter, and clothing expenses).
- This code, called an “A/A,” designates a federal SSI living code of ‘A’ and a State Supplement code of ‘A.’
SSA sets these codes, not the SNAP office/HRA center. Only SSA can code SSI recipients as live-alones.
SSI couples and recipients in other living arrangement categories cannot participate in NYSNIP/NYSCAP, but they may be eligible for SNAP through ESAP or the regular SNAP application process.
Due to the transition from NYSNIP to NYSCAP, current NYSNIP recipients can no longer “opt out” of NYSNIP and use the regular SNAP process. This is because they will instead be transferred to NYSCAP at their next point of contact (interim report, recertification, or reporting a change, whichever comes first). NYSCAP uses an individualized budget instead of the standardized budget that was used in NYSNIP.
18- to 21-year-old SSI Recipients Coded A/A by SSA
SSI participants ages 18 to 21 can be coded A/A, designating them as SSI live-alone, even if they reside with their parents, as long as they are paying their parents for living at home. These SSI recipients can participate in NYSNIP/NYSCAP as a separate SNAP household, as long as the parents are not in receipt of SNAP benefits. If both the parents and the 18- to 21-year-old SSI live-alone are current SNAP participants or applying for SNAP, then this family must apply together as one household under regular SNAP eligibility rules.
Enrollees Must Use Benefits Within 90 Days
When a person is enrolled in NYSCAP, they must redeem their SNAP benefits within the first 90 days of the auto-opening of their SNAP case. This means that they must use the EBT card that they received at a local SNAP vendor to purchase food. By doing this, the enrollee is agreeing to participate in SNAP and is providing an electronic application signature allowing them to receive monthly SNAP benefits. If benefits are not accessed within 90 days, the NYSCAP case will be automatically closed by the SNAP office and benefits will be removed and may not be restored.
This is also true for NYSNIP; however, new applicants are no longer enrolled in NYSNIP, so this rule only applies to NYSCAP enrollees going forward.
SNAP Benefits/Budgeting Under NYSCAP
NYSCAP enrollees will initially receive a minimum benefit level that can be as low as $23. However, benefits may be adjusted up to the maximum SNAP benefit level—as high as $291—if households complete and return the NYSCAP Statewide SNAP Case Information Collection Sheet (LDSS-4841) included with their NYSCAP opening notice (includes questions about shelter and utility costs).
There are no negative actions for not returning the LDSS-4841. The Information Collection Sheet gives enrollees the opportunity to provide and, if necessary, verify information that may qualify the household for a higher SNAP benefit.
Under NYSNIP, the SNAP budgeting/benefit is standardized. Benefit standards consider four factors:
- Cost of shelter
- Eligibility for the heating/cooling standard utility allowance
- Presence of other income
- Geographic location
Find the most recent NYSNIP Matrix by Shelter Type in our NYSNIP/NYSCAP Guide. Note that the NYSNIP matrix sunsets December 1, 2024.
Under NYSCAP, the SNAP budgeting/benefit is individualized. NYSCAP enrollees will have their SNAP case opened with their actual SSI income and any other income already budgeted, but with no shelter, medical, or other deductions, aside from the standard deduction.
The NYSCAP Statewide SNAP Case Information Collection Sheet (LDSS-4841) is provided to notify the SNAP office of the enrollee’s circumstances. Once the SNAP office receives a completed LDSS-4841 and any needed documents, the enrollees SNAP budget and benefit amount must be updated using standard SNAP budgeting.
Under NYSCAP rules, enrollees will automatically receive a reminder notice six months after the opening of their NYSCAP case if they have not returned the LDSS-4841:
- This notice provides enrollees with another opportunity to share information about their shelter and utility costs to maximize their SNAP benefit.
- Households that do not respond to this notice will not be subject to negative action. However, the household will continue to receive a monthly SNAP benefit as low as $23 instead of getting a monthly benefit that could be as high as $291 a month.
Upon receiving a completed LDSS-4841, the SNAP office must update the SNAP budget using standard SNAP budgeting rules, including:
- Adding the actual shelter expense,
- Determining the Heating/Cooling Standard Utility Allowance, and
- Adding in any medical expenses eligible under SNAP rules.
NYSCAP enrollees must meet the same SNAP verification requirements as all other SNAP cases, except:
- They may self-declare all shelter-related expenses (e.g., rent, mortgage, taxes, and insurance on the dwelling), unless questionable.
Households participating in either NYSNIP or NYSCAP will receive an interim report called the NYSCAP SNAP Case Interim Report (LDSS-4836 English | Spanish and LDSS-4836 NYC English | Spanish) at the midpoint of their certification period.
For NYSNIP participants the interim report is sent at the 24-month point of their 48-month certification period.
For NYSCAP participants the interim report is sent at the 18-month point of their 36-month certification period.
The following interim reporting rules apply to both NYSNIP and NYSCAP:
- The NYSCAP SNAP Case Interim Report (LDSS-4836) which collects information needed to complete a SNAP budget using standard SNAP budgeting procedures must be responded to or the case will be closed. This can include mailing a completed form back or calling the SNAP office and having a caseworker document the responses in the case record.
- If the interim report is returned, but there is not enough information to complete a SNAP budget, the SNAP office must contact the household to clarify or ask for needed documentation.
The following interim reporting rules apply to NYSNIP only:
- The SNAP office should convert the NYSNIP case to NYSCAP and calculate a SNAP budget using standard budgeting rules.
- NYSNIP cases that are converted to NYSCAP at their interim report retain the remainder of their original 48-month certification period. SNAP offices must not shorten the household’s certification period at the interim contact point.
Under SNAP rules a household is only authorized eligible for SNAP benefits for a specified, limited period of time, called the certification period. At the end of that period, the SNAP case is automatically closed unless the SNAP Office authorizes a new certification period. This process is called a recertification.
The NYSNIP certification period lasts up to 48 months (4 years).
The NYSCAP certification period lasts up to 36 months (3 years).
At the end of a certification period, both NYSNIP/NYSCAP households:
- Must follow the recertification process in place for all SNAP recipients in order to continue to receive SNAP benefits.
- Will receive a notice of expiration that includes a SNAP application/recertification form. This form must be completed and returned.
- Must follow regular SNAP documentation requirements.
At the end of a certification period, the following applies for NYSNIP only:
- If found eligible, the household will be converted to NYSCAP and given a 36-month certification period for SNAP.
Similarly, NYSCAP households who are found eligible when recertifying will also be given a new 36-month certification period for SNAP.
Participants who lose SSI live-alone status will be taken out of NYSNIP/NYSCAP; however, they can still receive SNAP benefits if they apply and are eligible.
Changes to the NYSNIP Benefit Matrix and Benefit Allotments
The NYSNIP benefit matrix will sunset on December 1, 2024. Until then, you can see the matrix valid from January 1, 2024, through December 1, 2024, here.