The Elderly Simplified Application Project (ESAP)
NYS implemented ESAP to simplify access to and participation in SNAP for older adults and adults with disabilities.
ESAP-eligible households benefit from:
- A simplified SNAP application
- Data matching for documents and less demanding verification
- 36-month certification period with a non-mandatory interim report
- No interview at recertification
To be eligible:
- all adult members must be a senior and/or disabled (and not eligible for NYSNIP), and
- have no earned income.
Households fitting the above criteria that include children and/or disabled children can participate in ESAP.
- An adult as an individual age 18 or older.
- A senior as an individual age 60 or older.
- A person with a disability as anyone determined to be disabled by the Social Security Administration and most likely receiving a federally related disability benefit including, but not limited to:
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Social Security Disability (SSD)
- Disability-related Medicaid
- Veterans Administration (VA) Disability 100%
Applying for ESAP
New applications for SNAP are being reviewed and those meeting the ESAP criteria will be placed into ESAP. They will receive a notice that includes the benefits of ESAP and the extension of the certification period.
Households already receiving SNAP and meeting ESAP criteria will be placed into ESAP at their next recertification, as long as they continue to be eligible for SNAP.
ESAP Interview Rules
Interviews at Application: ESAP-eligible households are required to have an initial application interview when applying for SNAP, like all other SNAP applicants.
Interviews at Recertification: ESAP-eligible households are not required to complete a recertification interview, but may request one. When is is time to recertify:
- ESAP households will get an ESAP-specific Notice of Expiration (NOE) informing them that a recertification interview is not required and that the SNAP office must determine if they are eligible for continued SNAP benefits.
- The NOE includes instructions on how to request an interview.
Note: ESAP-eligible households must submit a completed recertification application and any required documents to continue to receive SNAP benefits. ESAP-eligible households who do not return a recertification application will have their SNAP case closed for failure to recertify, like any other SNAP case.
SNAP Offices must offer ESAP-eligible households a recertification interview in the following situations:
- Before an ESAP recertification application can be denied for any reason other than a failure to submit a recertification application.
- When information on the ESAP recertification application is questionable and further clarification is needed.
- Upon request by the ESAP household.
SNAP offices will notify households of the following:
- Their scheduled interview date and time, or, in NYC, instructions to complete a phone interview
- That their case will be closed if they don’t complete an interview,
- Information provided on their recertification application indicates they are no longer eligible for SNAP, and
- They are being offered a chance to be interviewed to correct any incorrect information before their SNAP case is closed.
Upstate SNAP offices use the LDSS-5181 “ESAP Interview Notice Letter”. NYC SNAP offices use other means to notify households.
Data Matching & Other Simplifications for ESAP Households
Participating ESAP households are still required to provide documentation of:
- Proof of residency,
- Out-of-pocket medical expenses over $35,
- Non-federal/state sources of unearned income, and
- Any questionable information.
Unless questionable, participating ESAP households may self-declare:
- Standard Utility Allowances (SUA), and
- All other shelter-related expenses (e.g., rent, mortgage, taxes, and insurance on the dwelling).
SNAP offices are required to use computer matches and available systems to verify:
- Unearned income,
- Date of birth,
- Social Security Number, and
- If appropriate, that the household has no earned income.
Non-mandatory Interim Report
Households participating in ESAP will receive a non-mandatory interim report (LDSS-3151 SNAP Change Report Form) at the midpoint (18 months) of their 36-month certification period. This form does not need to be returned and the SNAP office may not take a negative action against the ESAP household for not returning this form.
- ESAP households may use this form to report changes—especially those that will increase their SNAP benefits.
- Changes that increase the household’s SNAP benefit must be acted upon and verified using resources and data matching or, if needed, documents from the household.
- No negative actions can be taken against the household for failure to verify the changes, but these will be looked into at the next recertification.
Other Reporting Requirements
Under ESAP’s simplified reporting requirements, households don’t have to report most changes until their next recertification (36 months). The following changes, however, must be reported within ten days of the beginning of the month following the month in which the change took place:
- Change in Household Composition. Whenever a person leaves or is added to an ESAP household, this should be reported because it may affect the household’s eligibility for ESAP. If all adults are not 60 or older and/or disabled, the household is no longer eligible for ESAP and should be transitioned to regular SNAP, if eligible.
- Receipt of Earned Income. If any member of the ESAP household begins receiving earned income this should be reported, as households receiving earned income are not eligible for ESAP.
- Substantial Lottery or Gambling Winnings. SNAP rules require that all SNAP households report substantial lottery or gambling winnings. Substantial lottery or gambling winnings are defined as a cash prize equal to or greater than the maximum allowable resources test for senior/disabled households—currently $3,750—won in a single game before taxes or other withholdings.
Households Who No Longer Meet ESAP Criteria
Households that no longer meet the criteria for ESAP will leave the project; these households are referred to as “leavers”.
Leavers who remain eligible for SNAP, but not ESAP:
- Keep the balance of their original 36-month certification period until the next recertification, and
- Are no longer are granted any of the other ESAP flexibilities.
Leavers are subject to the regular reporting requirements that apply to the household based on its circumstances.
Outreach & Resources
ESAP Outreach by NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (NYSOTDA)
As part of this project, NYSOTDA will collaborate with community partners and the NYS Office of the Aging (NYSOFA) to inform and engage the ESAP-eligible population. This outreach is will provide ESAP applications, help with the initial certification and recertification processes, and help clients understand and verify allowable medical costs.
To support this outreach, a new brochure has been developed to assist ESAP households with understanding the role certain allowable medical expenses may have on their SNAP benefit amount. PUB-5176, “It’s Easy for Older and Disabled Adults to Get SNAP – Deducting Medical Expenses for SNAP” explains that certain verified out-of-pocket medical costs that total more than $35 can be deducted from countable income which could result in some recipients receiving additional SNAP benefits each month. The brochure contains examples of medical costs that can be deducted and also contains information about the simplified application process for ESAP and what information may be needed to complete the application.
OTDA ESAP Policy and attachments:
- 21TA/DC079 – Preliminary Guidance Regarding the Elderly Simplified Application Project (ESAP)
- 21TA/DC079 – Attachment 1 – LDSS-5166 Application Recertification for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (SNAP) Benefits
- 21TA/DC079 – Attachment 2 – LDSS-5181 ESAP Interview Notice Letter
- 21TA/DC079 – Attachment 3 – PUB-5176 – It’s Easy for Older and Disabled Adults to Get SNAP – Deducting Medical Expenses for SNAP
- 21TA/DC079 – Attachment 4 – PUB-5176-SP
SNAP Medical Deduction Facts Plus Worksheet
Seniors and people with a disability who qualify for SNAP may be entitled to a larger monthly benefit by deducting out-of-pocket medical expenses over $35. By reporting these expenses in the SNAP application process, seniors can get even more help paying for food each month.
SNAP and Seniors Professional Network
Join to learn more about ESAP and other programs that help seniors/disabled people access SNAP. We offer service providers tools to help low-income older adults apply for and maintain SNAP benefits. The Network is a one-stop shop for SNAP policy, best practices, outreach materials, and resources to increase provider knowledge about SNAP benefits. Join today!
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