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How do I apply for food, cash, and health insurance assistance? How are assistance programs adjusting for COVID-19?

Last Updated: 10/15/2020

New Jersey has an online application and screening tool, NJHelps, that can be used to see if you are eligible for food assistance (SNAP), cash assistance (WFNJ/TANF or WFNJ/GA), and health Insurance (NJ FamilyCare/Medicaid). From there, you can apply for services or learn about additional resources.

To learn more about how to apply for affordable health coverage, visit NJfamilycare.org, which provides coverage for kids and certain low-income parents.

To learn more about NJ SNAP and apply for help buying groceries, you can also visit, https://www.nj.gov/humanservices/njsnap/.

To apply for support through the NJ WIC Program (Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children), applicants can visit https://nj.gov/health/fhs/wic/participants/find-wic and contact their local WIC office by phone. During the coronavirus outbreak, new applicants will be assessed, certified and issued benefits remotely.

HEALTH INSURANCE UPDATES

New Jersey residents will no longer use HealthCare.gov to enroll in Marketplace health insurance plans. Instead, Marketplace plans and financial help will only be available through New Jersey's new state-run health-care exchange Get Covered New Jersey at getcovered.nj.gov.

Get Covered New Jersey provides a one-stop shop for health insurance for residents who do not have coverage from an employer or other program. Under the new health exchange, individuals eligible for subsidy assistance and premium tax credits will find the lowest net premiums since the passage of the Affordable Care Act more than a decade ago.

For these individuals, the cost of health care is estimated to be $117 a month – a savings of nearly $50 a month from the current year and even $30 per month cheaper than a plan purchased in 2014. About 8 in 10 consumers purchasing coverage on Get Covered New Jersey will qualify for assistance.

The open enrollment period will begin on Sunday, November 1st, and run through January 31st, 2021. To learn more about insurance subsidies and how to apply, visit getcovered.nj.gov.

NOTE: Children and eligible low-income parents, pregnant women, or individuals with disabilities may also obtain affordable health coverage through NJ Family Care. Visit NJfamilycare.org to learn more.

SNAP UPDATES

Simplified Application Process: During this public health crisis, the State has made the application process for SNAP food assistance simpler. For example, a hard copy signature for your application and an interview are no longer required to apply for SNAP during this emergency.

Through a new online tool, available on NJOneApp, SNAP applicants can upload the documentation needed for applications electronically instead of mailing or dropping off documents to the county enrollment offices.

You can also apply online at NJHelps.org or if you do not have a computer, you can apply by phone by calling your local board of social services. You can also download the application and mail it into the local board of social services.

Extra SNAP Benefit: Eligible SNAP recipients are receiving additional SNAP benefits. The amount you receive will be the difference between your regular SNAP benefit and the maximum benefit for your family size. If you already receive the maximum benefit, you will not be eligible for this extra payment. The State distributed nearly $260 million in additional SNAP benefits from March to September, and will distribute an estimated $42.4 million in October.

Extra Benefits for Children: Special Pandemic-EBT (P-EBT) benefits are being provided to children who normally receive free or reduced-price school meals. For the 2019-2020 school year, benefits were sent to eligible families. Families received up to $416.10 for each eligible student for nutritional support during the time that schools moved to remote learning during the pandemic. For the 2020-2021 school year, P-EBT benefits in the amount of $99.62 per eligible child are being issued for students receiving free- or reduced-price school meals and are attending schools with a remote learning schedule of at least 5 consecutive days. No application is necessary. The majority of P-EBT eligible families participating in SNAP will receive their benefit on their household's existing Families First EBT card. All other P-EBT eligible households were mailed a P-EBT card. More information is available on the P-EBT page.

SNAP Work Activities: During the current public health crisis, your case will not be closed if you are unable to participate in a work activity.

SNAP Recertification Extension: If your case is due to be recertified in March, April, May, June, July, August, September, or October and you are unable to get your paperwork in or complete your interview, your case will not be closed. You will receive your benefits on the usual day. Your case has been granted a six-month extension from the date your recertification is due. More information will follow on your new recertification date. In the meantime, you will continue to receive SNAP benefits.

Online Grocery Shopping: New Jerseyans enrolled in SNAP may use their Families First EBT card to purchase eligible groceries online through Amazon, Walmart, ShopRite, and The Fresh Grocer. Under federal rules, SNAP benefits cannot be used to pay for delivery fees. Recipients can register their EBT card with Amazon at Amazon.com/SNAP. To learn more about their SNAP programs, visit Walmart, Shoprite, or The Fresh Grocer.

WOMEN, INFANTS, AND CHILDREN (WIC) UPDATES

In light of COVID-19, New Jersey WIC has made several important changes to better serve residents:

  • New participants can apply for WIC services remotely by visiting: wic.nj.gov/ParticipantPortal/, there is no need to be physically present at a WIC agency.
  • Current participants can continue to receive benefits by having 3 months' worth of checks mailed to their homes.
  • Participants who are quarantined and unable to leave their homes to purchase foods, can designate an emergency proxy who can cash their checks at a store on their behalf.
  • Food choices have been expanded, giving participants more flexibility in the brand and size of foods they buy at the store. For more information, visit the NJ WIC website or check out their flyer.
  • The State is working closely with their infant formula contractor to ensure formula supplies are fully stocked at stores.
  • The State is also working closely with their authorized stores to ensure that limits placed on certain food items to customers are not placed on WIC participants.
  • The State has modified WIC's farmers' markets program, allowing participants to receive their vouchers primarily by mail, unless a pickup arrangement can be set up safely. Participants can also designate a proxy to pick up their produce from the markets for them.

WORK FIRST NEW JERSEY (WFNJ) UPDATES

WFNJ Recertification Extension: If your case is due in March, April, May June, July, August, or September to be recertified, the deadline has been extended 60 days. More information will follow on your new recertification date. In the meantime, you will continue to receive WFNJ benefits.

WFNJ Work Activities: During the current public health crisis, your case will not be closed if you are unable to participate in a work activity. This includes if you are a General Assistance (GA) client completing the 28-day work activity while your case is being reviewed.

Sources: https://www.njhelps.org/; https://www.nj.gov/governor/news/news/562020/approved/20200327a.shtml; https://www.childcarenj.gov/SocialServices; Health Commissioner's Remarks 5/8/20; https://www.nj.gov/governor/news/news/562020/approved/20200511d.shtml; https://nj.gov/humanservices/news/pressreleases/2020/approved/20203006m.html; Commissioner Persichilli 7/20/20; https://nj.gov/humanservices/news/pressreleases/2020/approved/20200730.html