Temporary Assistance (TA)



Key Information for the Public in the need of or in receipt of Public Benefits during the Covid-19 Pandemic:

To help stop the spread of COVID-19 Lewis County DSS is asking applicants to do everything they can through myBenefits.ny.gov.  Please call the agency at 315-376-5400 with any questions prior to coming into the office. Currently All SNAP, Temporary Assistance and HEAP application interviews may be done by phone.

To Apply for SNAP or HEAP you can do so online at:  www.mybenefits.ny.gov


To Apply for SNAP, Temporary Assistance or HEAP, you can also go to www.otda.ny.gov  and print off an application.


Call 315-376-5400 and an application can be mailed to you.

You can submit the application and/or supporting documentation by:

  • Fax:  315-376-4112
  • Mail: PO Box 193 Lowville, NY 13367
  • Drop box:  Located at the main entrance of the Social Services Building


The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) issues electronic benefits that can be used like cash to purchase food. SNAP helps low-income working people, senior citizens, the disabled and others feed their families. Eligibility and benefit levels are based on household size, income and other factors.

It is possible to get SNAP right away, or within a few days of applying.   If you have little or no money and need help right away, you may qualify for "expedited" SNAP. If you do, you must receive your initial SNAP benefit within five days. You will still have to complete the eligibility process and supply all the required documentation at a later date. 

Any Stimulus rebate payments from the Federal Government’s CARE Act will be excluded as income.

Temporary Assistance (TA) is temporary help for needy men, women and children. If you are unable to work, can’t find a job, or your job does not pay enough, TA may be able to help you pay for your expenses.

Learn about Temporary Assistance from the topics below:


What are the two major Temporary Assistance programs?

Family Assistance (FA) 

Family Assistance (FA) provides cash assistance to eligible 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.

Parents and other adult relatives receiving FA who are determined to be able to work must comply with federal work requirements to receive FA benefits.

As a further condition of FA eligibility each person who applies for or is receiving FA is required to cooperate with state and local departments of social services in efforts to locate any absent parent and obtain support payments and other payments or property. Non-cooperation without good cause could result in lower FA benefits.

Safety Net Assistance (SNA)

Safety Net Assistance (SNA) provides cash assistance to eligible needy individuals and families who are not eligible for FA). SNA is for:

  • Single adults
  • Childless couples
  • Children living apart from any adult relative
  • Families of persons found to be abusing drugs or alcohol
  • Families of persons refusing drug/alcohol screening, assessment or treatment
  • Aliens who are eligible for temporary assistance, but who are not eligible for federal reimbursement

Recipients of SNA who are determined to be able to work must also comply with work requirements to receive SNA benefits.

Generally, you can receive cash SNA for a maximum of two years in a lifetime. After that, if you are eligible for SNA, it is provided in non-cash form, such as a payment made directly to your landlord or voucher sent directly to your utility company. In addition, non-cash SNA is provided for:

  • Families of persons found to be abusing drugs or alcohol
  • Families of persons refusing drug/alcohol screening, assessment or treatment
  • Families with an adult who has exceeded the 60 month lifetime time limit


Is there a limit on how long I can get TANF-Funded Temporary Assistance?

There is a 60-month limit on the receipt of Family Assistance (FA) benefits funded under the federal TANF program, some Safety Net Assistance (SNA), or the Child Assistance Program (CAP). Additionally, payments made under Emergency Assistance to Families with Children (EAF) after December 1, 1996 are included in the 60-month count. Participants in CAP are also restricted to the 60-month lifetime limit.

Additionally, cash Temporary Assistance in New York State is limited to a cumulative period of 60 months for any adult. No cash assistance (FA or SNA) benefit is granted to a family that contains an adult who has received a combined total of 60-month benefits under FA or cash SNA.



January 12, 2012 

Non-Parent Caregivers (Grandparents, Other Relatives, Friends) Caring for Children 

Non-parent caregivers, who are caring for children without a parent living in their home, may be eligible for Temporary Assistance. Temporary Assistance for children not living with a parent is often referred to as "non-parent caregiver" or "child-only" grants, and includes Medical Assistance (MA). If the non-parent caregiver wants assistance only for the children, the non-parent caregiver’s income is not used to determine eligibility and there are no Temporary Assistance work requirements for the non-parent caregiver. Non-parent caregivers may apply for temporary assistance at their local social services office. 

In addition to financial assistance, non-parent caregivers (also called kinship caregivers) often have a need for information and assistance related to food stamps, the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP), custody, guardianship, foster care, adoption, schooling, school enrollment, and other forms of assistance such as child care, social security, respite, case management and service programs. 

For information about services and assistance programs please visit the following websites: 

  • New York State Kinship Navigator - The NYS Kinship Navigator’s website offers legal fact sheets, state and local kinship resources, and other information. In addition, the Navigator operates a toll free phone line at 1-877-454- 6463. Kinship Specialists are available from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm Monday through Friday. A message may be left during non-business hours and calls will be returned when business hours resume. 
  • Programs and Services - The NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA). 
  • MyBenefits - MyBenefits is an online tool to help you learn about eligibility for financial assistance and other benefit programs. A simple, 10-minute prescreening from any computer with Internet access at any time, determines whether you are likely to qualify for Food Stamps, HEAP, the Earned Income Tax Credit, child dependent care credits, school lunch and other programs. 
  • Kinship Care in New York State - The NYS Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) provides contact information and links to the Kinship Caregiver Programs funded through OCFS, as well as a variety of resources for families and staff, including the Kinship Guardianship Assistance Program (KinGAP), a subsidy program available to kinship caregivers who are foster parents. 
  • Know Your Resources: Nonparent Caregiver Benefits (Pub. 5194) - Nonparent caregivers (NPCs), commonly called kinship caregivers, are adults who are caring for children living in their home without their parent.  If you are a nonparent caregiver, you may be eligible for financial assistance and other supports described in this brochure.

Your local Social Services District (SSD) and local area Office for the Aging (OFA) are also resources for information on kinship care. 


What is an Emergency?

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 physically harmed, or threatened with violence by a partner, ex-partner or other household member

If you and/or your family are experiencing an emergency situation, you may be eligible for emergency assistance. Some examples of emergency assistance include, but are not limited to:

  • Payment of shelter arrears
  • Payment of utility arrears
  • Payment of fuel and/or cost of fuel delivery
  • Payment of Domestic Violence Shelter costs
  • Payment of Temporary Housing (Hotel/Motel) costs

Payments may be authorized once you are determined to be eligible for one of the following emergency programs:

Emergency Assistance to Adults (EAA) - provides assistance for individuals and couples who have been determined eligible or are receiving SSI (Supplemental Security Income) or State Supplementation Program (SSP) payments.

Emergency Assistance to Needy Families (EAF) - provides assistance to meet the emergency needs of pregnant women and families with at least one child under age 18, or under age 19 and regularly attending full time secondary school.

Emergency Safety Net Assistance (ESNA) - provides emergency assistance to single adults and childless couples.

Note: Aliens who do not have documents that permit them to reside legally in the US are eligible only for certain kinds of emergency benefits.

You DO NOT have to be eligible for ongoing Temporary Assistance to receive Emergency Assistance.


How Do I Apply for Temporary Assistance?

To find out if you are eligible to receive Temporary Assistance, including help with an emergency, you need to file an application with your county Department of Social Services or, if you live in one of the five boroughs of New York City, with your local Job Center.

You can find the location of your local Department of Social Services online, or by calling the toll-free OTDA Hotline at 1-800-342-3009.

You must fill out the application form and file it at your local department of Social Services. You should identify any emergency needs you may have at this time. If you have an emergency, you will be interviewed and told in writing about the decision on your emergency the same day you apply.

For Temporary Assistance, your interview should be within seven working days of your filing an application. You should be told within 30 days of the date you filed your application if your application for Family Assistance is approved or denied, or be told within 45 days of the date you filed your application for Safety Net Assistance if your application is approved or denied.


What Proof Will I Need to Provide to My Worker?

When you are applying for, or getting, help for yourself or for someone else, you will be asked to provide proof of certain things, such as those listed below. Your worker will tell you which of these things you must provide. If you bring proof with you when you first come in to apply for assistance, you may be able to get help sooner.

If you drop documentation off at your local department of social services, you should ask for a receipt to prove what documentation you left. The receipt should have your name, the specific documentation that you dropped off, the time, date, county name and the name of the social services worker who provided the receipt.

If you cannot get the proof you need, ask your worker to help you. If the local department of social services already has proof of the things that do not change, such as your social security number, you do not need to provide them again.

What Proof May I Need to Provide to My Worker?



Who You Are

Photo ID, driver's license, U.S. passport

Age of Each Applying Household Member

Birth or baptismal certificate, hospital records, driver's license

Where You Live

Current rent receipt, mortgage records, statement from landlord

Household Composition/Size

Statement from non-relative landlord, school records

Shelter Expenses

Current rent receipt, current lease, mortgage records, property and school tax records, sewer and water bills, fuel bills, utility bills

Social Security Numbers

Social Security Number which can be verified by the agency, Social Security Card, official correspondence from SSA

Absent Parent Information

Pay stubs, tax returns, Social Security or VA records, monetary determination letters

Citizen or Current Alien Status

Birth certificate, U.S. passport, military service records, naturalization certificate, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services documentation

Whether You are Drug/Alcohol Dependent

Alcohol/drug screening and assessment which may include a drug test

Earned Income

Current pay stubs, statement from employer, tax records, business records, statement from roomer or boarder of amount paid for lodging

Child Support or Alimony

Statement from Court, statement from person paying support

Social Security Benefits

Current benefit check or current award letter

Veteran's Benefits

Current benefit check, current award letter, official correspondence from U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Unemployment Insurance Benefits

Official correspondence from New York State Department of Labor

Interest and Dividends

Statement from bank, credit union or broker

Educational Grants and Loan

Statement from school or bank, current award letter

Worker's Compensation

Current award letter or check stub

Bank Accounts

Bank records or credit union records

Checking Accounts

Bank statements

Burial Trust or Fund

Bank statement or copy of burial agreement

Burial Plot or Agreement

Statement from cemetery or funeral director, copy burial plot deed

Life Insurance

Insurance policy

Real Estate Other Than Where You Live

Deed, appraisal/estimate of current value by real estate broker

Motor Vehicle

Registration, title of ownership, financing information

Stocks and Bonds

Stock certificates, bonds

School Attendance of Those Attending School

School records, statement from school

Health Insurance

Insurance policy, insurance card, statement from provider of coverage, Medicare card

Unpaid Rent or Utilities

Copy of each bill, statement from landlord or utility company

Paid or Unpaid Medical Bills

Copy of each bill and proof of payment if a paid bill

Absent Parent

Death certificate, survivor's benefits, divorce papers, veteran's assistance or military records


Statement from medical professional, proof of Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits

Other Expenses/Dependent Care Expenses

Cancelled checks or receipts, statement from child care provider, court order, statement from aide or attendant

The documents listed above are the most commonly used.  This list is not complete because there are other documents you can use.

Note: For most sources of income, Temporary Assistance workers must calculate your ongoing benefits using “gross” levels of earned income and unearned income, rather than what you may actually take home after mandatory or voluntary deductions or adjustments.

Sometimes your worker will ask you to explore the use of “community resources,” which may include your parents, other family members, friends, religious organizations, social organizations where you live, etc., that may meet your need or needs in lieu of, or in addition to, Temporary Assistance. If it is determined that these resources are available to you, you must explore and make use of all them to help meet your needs, including emergency needs, as a condition of eligibility for Temporary Assistance, or provide your worker with good cause for not doing so.

How do I file a discrimination complaint?

New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) and Local Social Service Districts are prohibited from discriminating against applicants and recipients of public benefits on the basis of race, color, national origin, disability, age, sex, religion, political beliefs, gender identity, transgender status, gender dysphoria, sexual orientation, marital status, military status and reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity.

If you think you have been discriminated against while applying for or receiving Temporary Assistance, or that your case has been handled improperly due to some type of discrimination, you can file a complaint of discrimination, by writing to NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, Equal Opportunity and Diversity, 40 N Pearl Street, Albany, NY 12243-0001 or calling (518) 473.8555.

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) Services

 The Department of Social Services is required to provide to applicants and recipients of Temporary Assistance (TA) that are a parent, guardian, custodian or otherwise responsible for a child’s care, educational materials about ACEs which includes information on the importance of protective factors and the availability of services for children at risk of or suffering from the effects of ACEs.  

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) can be……

 “…stressful or traumatic experiences experienced during childhood, which are strongly related to the development and prevalence of a wide range of health problems throughout a person's lifetime, including, but not limited to physical or sexual abuse; domestic violence; parental mental illness; substance abuse; and incarceration.”


For more information about ACEs, please visit:  https://ocfs.ny.gov/programs/cwcs/aces.php.