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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: 10/05/2021

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

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.

New Jersey extended the window for eligible uninsured residents to enroll in a health insurance plan through the marketplace or directly from carriers through a COVID-19 Special Enrollment Period, which runs through December 31, 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: From January 2021 to September 2021, all SNAP recipients will receive a 15% benefit increase. For example, a family of three that received $535 a month will receive a payment of $616.

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. As of July 13, SNAP families with children under the age of 6 should have received P-EBT benefits they are eligible for from October 2020 through June 2021. Benefits to cover the summer period will be added to Families First cards in early September. For the latest updates, visit 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 was due to be recertified 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 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

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 WFNJ case is scheduled to be redetermined, the deadline may be extended, for specific reasons, as long as the Public Health State of Emergency remains in place. Information will be sent to you about your new redetermination date. If you have questions, contact your county board of social services. 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://www.state.nj.us/humanservices/news/pressreleases/2020/approved/20201124b.html