How to Get Welfare in New York State

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"Welfare" refers to public assistance benefits that allow low-income people to meet basic needs such as food, shelter and clothing. New York offers two primary welfare programs -- the Family Assistance program for families with minor children, and the Safety Net Assistance program for people who fail to qualify for other assistance programs. The Family Assistance program and some Safety Net Assistance benefits are limited to 60 months' duration. The Safety Net Assistance program requires you to work if you are able.

Locate the branch of the Department of Social Services nearest you (please see Resources section). Every county has at least one office.

Download and print the application for temporary assistance (see Resources section) and complete it. You must provide details pertaining to your identity, residence, income and expenditures.

Visit the Department of Social Services and ask a social worker what forms of documentation will be required to accompany your application. You will need identification for yourself and any household member who will receive benefits. You may also be asked to provide proof of your address, immigration status, income, living expenses and other items. The more documentation you bring with you on your first visit, the less likely you will need to make another trip before submitting your application.

Collect the required documentation and submit it to the Department of Social Services long with your application for temporary assistance. You will receive a receipt for your documentation and an interview appointment date and time. Your interview will be scheduled within seven working days of your application filing date.

Attend your eligibility interview. If your application is approved, you will start receiving benefits immediately. Turn in your receipt to receive your documentation back.

Tips & Warnings

  • You may qualify for immediately available emergency assistance while you are waiting for your application to be reviewed.

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