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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: 03/10/2022

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.

Additionally, the ConnectingNJ website can help you connect with the best health and social resources available in your local community.

HEALTH INSURANCE UPDATES

Marketplace health insurance plans and financial help are now only available through New Jersey's 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 American Rescue Plan, more people than ever will qualify for financial help in purchasing a plan through Get Covered NJ. If you did not qualify for financial help before because your income was too high, you may now qualify under the federal changes. If you already are receiving financial help, you are likely eligible for additional premium reductions.

Visit getcovered.nj.gov to sign up for insurance coverage, compare plans, and see if you qualify for financial help.

Open enrollment ended January 31, 2022, but you may enroll at a later date if you experience a life-changing event like losing your job-based health coverage, having a baby, or losing coverage from a parent's plan.

NOTE: Children and eligible low-income parents, pregnant women, or individuals with disabilities may also obtain affordable health coverage through NJ Family Care at any time of year. 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.

Temporary Emergency Supplemental Food Assistance Benefits: As of April 2021, households will receive at least $95 in emergency benefits or the maximum temporary benefit for your household size, whichever is greater. Before April 2021, only households who were not receiving the maximum SNAP allotment for their household size received a temporary emergency supplemental benefit. These additional emergency benefits are temporary. For the latest information, refer to the SNAP updates page.

Extra Benefits for Children: Pandemic-EBT (P-EBT) is a program to help purchase food for school-aged children who were eligible for free or reduced price school meals at a school that participates in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), but whose schools closed or operated with reduced attendance or hours for five consecutive days due to COVID-19.

P-EBT benefits for families with children under the age of 6 who are already enrolled in SNAP started being added to their Families First EBT cards on July 30. Payments will continue to be added to the EBT cards for each eligible month in the following days, with all funds added by August 12, 2022.

Recipients can check their Families First account balance online or by calling the phone number on the back of their card.

P-EBT benefits for school-age children are provided to eligible children for the summer months following a school year during which there was a COVID-19 public health emergency. The $391 summer P-EBT benefit will be issued in September to eligible children in grades K-12 as of the 2022-2023 school year, who were approved for free or reduced price school meals through the NSLP.

For children in households already enrolled in SNAP, benefits will be loaded directly onto the Families First EBT card. For children not enrolled in SNAP and who received P-EBT benefits during the school year, a new P-EBT card will be mailed to the address provided by the child's school.

Families with questions about their benefits can complete an online inquiry.

SNAP Recertification Extension: During the pandemic, recertifications were paused and your benefits were extended. These extensions are being phased out. You will receive a Notice of Expiration letter in the mail from your local board of social services with your interview date or asking you to call and schedule an interview. Contact your local board of social services if you have questions about your notice or if you need help completing your recertification.

Online Grocery Shopping: New Jerseyans enrolled in SNAP may use their Families First EBT card to purchase eligible SNAP food items at participating stores online. For more information about ordering online and to find participating stores in your area, visit the NJ SNAP Using Your Benefits page.

WOMEN, INFANTS, AND CHILDREN (WIC) UPDATES

New Jersey WIC has made several important changes to better serve residents:

  • New participants can apply for New Jersey WIC by contacting your local WIC agency or WIC clinic office and scheduling an appointment. You can also use the WICParticipant Portal to see if you are eligible to receive WIC benefits.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • For more information and updates, visit the NJ Department of Health's WIC page

WORK FIRST NEW JERSEY (WFNJ) UPDATES

WFNJ Work Activities: Work activities for WFNJ clients will be resuming in 2022. Your county board of social services will provide information about your work activity requirements when it is time for you to start participating.

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; Commissioner Persichilli 7/20/20;