- Social Security: The SSA has a new rule that makes it easier for applicants to file a late reconsideration request and receive benefits while the reconsideration is pending. The best way to contact the SSA is through the online portal or a kiosk at a local office. Applicants for disability benefits can expect to wait an average of 206 days before receiving their initial decision. Care teams can help applicants manage expectations and plan for a delay.
- ITIN: People without a social security number can request an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). Care teams can share information on the benefits of using an ITIN (in English and en Español) for people without immigration status.
- Credit: Free credit reports are available online weekly at www.annualcreditreport.com. Care teams can help people explore creative ways to build credit like having a landlord report paid rent through Experian’s RentBureau.
- Internet: The Affordable Connectivity Program provides income-eligible households with a $30/month discount on internet services, which often results in free internet. Households that receive WIC are automatically eligible. Care teams can help people explore whether they are eligible and apply online (en Español).
- Families seeking food assistance can contact the USDA National Hunger Hotline, by phone (1-866-348-6479) Monday to Friday from 7am-10pm EST. They can also text (914-342-7744) to locate SNAP, EBT, and School Meal programs in their area.
- SNAP: Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA) went in effect on October 1, 2023. For most recipients they will see a maximum allotment for a family of 4 rise to $973. (Different increases apply to people in Alaska, US Virgin Islands and Guam. Allotments will decrease in Hawaii.) For more information about the COLA and shelter cap values see this USDA announcement. SNAP restarted the 3-month time limit for childless adults who are not working and between the ages of 18 and 52.There are some exceptions. Care teams can check their state’s plan by visiting USDA waiver list.
- D-SNAP: Disaster SNAP benefits are available for low-income families who experienced food loss after a natural disaster. Care teams can check to see if their catchment area qualifies for D-SNAP by visiting the USDA list.
- WIC: Parents and caregivers can apply for benefits through their local WIC office. Care teams can help people struggling with the nationwide infant formula shortage by connecting them with community resources.
- School Lunch: Students qualify for free lunch if their household gets food assistance (SNAP), financial assistance (TANF), or tribal assistance (FDPIR); by meeting the requirements for their state’s National School Lunch Program; or by attending a school that is covered by the Community Eligibility Provision.
- Nutrition: People can find updated dietary guidelines, shopping guides, and recipes at myplate.gov.
Spotlight on public charge:
Many immigrants who are applying for legal permanent residency are concerned about the public charge test affecting their application.
- Financial assistance programs are considered for the public charge test. This includes TANF, SSI, and general cash assistance.
- Nutrition assistance programs are not considered for the public charge test. This includes SNAP, P-EBT, WIC, school lunch, summer meals, and food pantries.
Care teams can provide people who are concerned about public charge with resources from Protecting Immigrant Families (available in 9 languages).
The Bottom Line
- Many nutrition and income assistance programs receive funding from their state, however, much of that funding originates with the federal government. As a result, care teams can affect change in nutrition and income maximization by advocating at any level – federal, state, or local. Care teams can also monitor the news on federal spending legislation.