If you need help applying for HRA benefits or with a cash assistance/welfare or SNAP case, including a fair hearing, call The Legal Aid Society’s Access to Benefits helpline 888-663-6880 on Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
This is information on applying for and keeping cash assistance (also known as welfare or public assistance or “PA” or cash assistance or “CA”), Medicaid, and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits (SNAP, formerly food stamps). These benefits are available through HRA to persons who are eligible. This page includes is information about steps you can take on your own, and what to do if you need help from The Legal Aid Society.
*Due to COVID-19 you do NOT have to go to an HRA Job Center in person to apply for benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic. You can apply online, via mail, or fax. In certain circumstances, you can also apply over the phone or request an in-person visit. Learn more about your options here.
How The Legal Aid Society can help with HRA
Do you want to apply for cash assistance, SNAP or help with your rent?
There are three ways to apply for cash assistance and/or SNAP/Food Stamps:
- By computer or smart phone –You can apply for cash assistance (also known as welfare or public assistance or “PA”) and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits (SNAP, formerly food stamps) online at ACCESS HRA. You can then upload documents on the ACCESS HRA app on your smartphone.
- By paper application – You can complete a paper application and send it to HRA by mail. You can get a paper application by (a) calling HRA Infoline at 718-557-1399 or 311 (and ask for HRA application) or (b) printing one from the HRA website. After you fill it in, you can send it to HRA.
- In person – at an open HRA Center – You can go in person to apply or to pick up a paper application. HRA offices (called “Job Centers”) are open in each borough. But be sure to check this link or call 311 before you go to make sure the office is open – some HRA offices are closed during the pandemic.
What kind of help can HRA give me?
- Help with emergencies: Examples of emergencies include having no cash, needing food or personal hygiene items (soap, diapers, toilet paper, masks); facing an electricity or gas shut-off; facing eviction. If you have one or more of these emergencies you may qualify for help.
- Help with cash assistance: Cash Assistance is a twice a month cash grant that recipients can use to meet basic needs. Some of the grant goes to rent and utilities, and there are other special grants for furniture, clothing, storage fees, etc. depending on your situation.
- Help for people who are homeless: If you are homeless, you may be able to get carfare to use for apartment search, an allowance for purchasing prepared food from restaurants; help keeping your belongings in storage.
- Help to prevent eviction: HRA also helps to prevent evictions. If you are facing eviction and need help, help is available through the COVID Housing Helpline at 212-298-3333.
How long is it supposed to take to get help from HRA?
Requests for help with emergencies are supposed to happen right away. Requests to open a case take longer. HRA must respond to your application in writing within 30 days if you are applying for:
- cash assistance and have a child under 18 years old living with you (in most cases)
HRA must respond to your application in writing within 45 days for cash assistance if you have no child under age 18 living with you (and in some cases even if a child is living with you).
Do you need help because HRA has not responded to your application?
- Call 311 and complain. Get a confirmation number from the 311 operator.
- Call The Legal Aid Society’s Access to Benefits helpline 888-663-6880 on Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Do you have a case already, but you are having problems with it? You can request a "fair hearing."
You can request a “fair hearing” if:
- Your benefits are going to be denied, or reduced, or discontinued,
- You are asking that a person be added to the case, but they are not added,
- You lost your job or your hours are reduced, and HRA is still paying the same amount of benefits,
- You are having trouble getting a sanction lifted,
- You can request fair hearings on other issues too.
At the hearing, a judge will hear the case and decide if HRA made a mistake.
How and when do I request a fair hearing?
You can request a fair hearing in 5 ways:
- Online “Electronic” Request”
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Phone call: 518-474-8781 or toll free 800-342-3334
- Fax: 518-473-6735
- By mail – write to:
New York State OTDA
Office of Administrative Hearings
P.O. Box 1930
Albany, New York 12201
Can I go in person to 14 Boerum Place and Request a hearing?
No. Not right now. Because of the COVID-19 crisis, that office is currently closed to the public. You cannot not go in person to 14 Boerum Place, 1st Floor, Brooklyn (corner of Boerum and Livingston Streets).
When you should request the fair hearing?
Request a Fair Hearing right away! You can request a fair hearing as soon as you receive a notice of decision that you disagree with, or if your benefits or services are changed without notice.
You must request a fair hearing within 60 days of the date of the notice for public assistance and Medicaid issues, and 90 days for SNAP (Food Stamp) issues. Even if you think you missed the deadline, you can still make the request.
If you request the hearing within 10 days of the date of the notice, you can get “aid continuing.” “Aid continuing” means your benefits should continue unchanged until the hearing decision is made.
Because of COVID-19, most hearings are only being held by telephone, not in person. You have the right to decline a telephone hearing and ask that it be rescheduled in person at a future date.
The information in this document has been prepared by The Legal Aid Society for informational purposes only and is not legal advice. This information is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. You should not act upon any information without retaining professional legal counsel.