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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: 06/02/2020

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 http://www.njfamilycare.org/default.aspx.

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.

SNAP Updates

Simplified Application Process: During this public health crisis, the State is making the application process for SNAP food assistance simpler by removing some parts in the process. For example, a hard copy signature for your application and an interview are no longer required to apply for SNAP during this emergency. The online system has been updated to make it easier for SNAP applicants to track their application.

You can 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 will receive an extra SNAP benefit. 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. As of May 8, the State has distributed an extra $106 million in additional benefits to SNAP recipients since the start of the emergency.

Extra Benefits for Children: Special Pandemic-EBT benefits will be provided to recipients of SNAP with children who normally receive free or reduced-price school meals. Families will receive $416.10 for each eligible student for nutritional support during the time that schools have been closed during the pandemic. Eligible students already participating in SNAP will receive the Pandemic-EBT on their household's existing Families First card. These benefits are expected to be issued no later than June. No application is necessary.

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 or June 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, through September, October, November or December 2020. More information will follow on your new recertification date. In the meantime, you will continue to receive SNAP benefits.

Online Grocery Shopping; Beginning May 27, New Jerseyans enrolled SNAP will be able to use their benefits to order groceries online through Amazon and on May 28, through participating Walmarts, ShopRites and The Fresh Grocers. Recipients will be able to use their Families First Electronic Benefits Transfer card to purchase eligible groceries from the participating retailers. 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. Visit here to learn about Walmart's SNAP online program. Any Walmart, ShopRite or The Fresh Grocer that currently provides online shopping will also accept online ordering with SNAP benefits.

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 an 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.
  • And the State is also preparing for the farmers market programs with modifications, including the mailing of checks to participants, conducting remote certifications, and training new farmers remotely.

Work First New Jersey (WFNJ) Updates

WFNJ Recertification Extension: If your case is due in March, April, or May 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