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What is DSNAP?
The Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (DSNAP) provides eligible low- to moderate-income households who do not currently receive SNAP benefits with help buying groceries due to lost income or damages following a disaster.
I have specific questions regarding my DSNAP or SNAP case. Who can I contact?
If you have a question about your case, call the LAHelpU Customer Service Center at 1-888-524-3578.
What services are available for applicants who don’t speak English?
The LAHelpU Customer Service Center uses Language Line translation services and will assist all residents through the application process. For more information about how to apply, see below under "Application."
I lost power. Do I automatically get DSNAP benefits?
No. DSNAP applicants must report food loss. If you are a current SNAP recipient and lost food due to a power outage of 24+ straight hours, you may be eligible for Replacement SNAP benefits.
How is DSNAP eligibility calculated?
Eligibility for DSNAP benefits is determined by looking at the applicant’s take-home pay (earned and unearned) in the designated 30-day time-period, adding all available cash resources (including checking and savings balances), and deducting the total dollar amount of money spent on any disaster-related expense - that has not already been reimbursed - during the designated 30-day period.
What is "earned income"?
Earned income is the net wages a household actually receives after taxes and all other payroll withholding. Payroll withholding includes any deductions from wages, such as insurance premiums, retirement contributions, garnishments, automatic payments to creditors, etc. Money received on payroll deposit debit cards is considered earned income.
What is "unearned income"?
Examples of unearned income include but are not limited to Child Support, alimony, unemployment benefits, Social Security benefits, SSI benefits, VA benefits, FITAP benefits, worker’s compensation, pensions, contributions from friends and/or family, etc.
What is a "disaster-related expense"?
Examples of disaster-related expenses can include home or business repairs, temporary shelter expenses, evacuation expenses, home or business property protection, medical expenses due to disaster-related personal injury, including funeral expenses, disaster-related pet boarding fees, expenses related to replacing necessary personal and household items such as clothing, appliance, tools, and educational material, fuel for primary heating source, clean-up items expense, disaster-damaged vehicle expenses, and storage and moving expenses paid during 30-day time period. Items such as mortgage, rent, car notes, etc. that are recurring expenses do not count as a disaster-related expense.
I’m not eligible for SNAP. Will I qualify for DSNAP?
Households not normally eligible for SNAP may qualify for DSNAP because of their disaster-related expenses, damage to property, and in some cases, loss of food due to power outages. Please note: Loss of income is also considered a disaster-relarted expense.
I receive SNAP. Am I eligible for DSNAP? Do I need to apply?
SNAP recipients are not typically eligible for DSNAP and should not apply. In the event of a disaster, if SNAP recipients are eligible for additional benefits, those benefits will be handled through a separate process.
What information do I need to apply for DSNAP?
When calling to apply for DSNAP, please be prepared to provide the following during your application interview:
- A driver’s license or state-issued ID to verify your identity and residency (NOTE: Before calling to apply for DSNAP, please download the LA Wallet mobile app at LAWallet.com)
- Other acceptable forms of ID include a work or school ID, ID for health benefits or another social services program, voter’s registration card, paycheck stub, or birth certificate, US passport card, birth certificate, Matricula Consular ID card and US military discharge papers. If identity is not verified electronically through LA Wallet or OMW, applicants will need to provide a copy of identification.
- If documents are needed, an email will be sent using a secure encrypted email account to request the documents allowing 7 days for return. If email is not available, a written request will be sent allowing 7 days to return the documents either by mail or it can be dropped off at a local parish office.
- Verification of monthly income for each household member between August 26 – Sept 24. (e.g., check stubs, income related to Child Support, alimony, unemployment benefits, Social Security benefits, SSI benefits, VA benefits, FITAP benefits, worker’s compensation, pensions, contributions from friends and/or family)
- Verification of household resources as of August 26 (e.g., cash in hand, checking or savings statements)
- Amount of disaster-related expenses you incurred during the disaster period - August 26 – Sept 24. These include but are not limited to:
- home or business repairs,
- temporary shelter expenses
- evacuation expenses
- home or business property protection
- medical expenses due to disaster-related personal injury
- including funeral expenses
- disaster-related pet boarding fees
- expenses related to replacing necessary personal and household items such as clothing, appliance, tools, and educational material
- fuel for primary heating source
- clean-up items expense
- disaster-damaged vehicle expenses
- and storage and moving expenses
If you did not pre-register before calling to apply, you also will need to be prepared to provide:
- Name, date of birth, and Social Security Number (if applicable) for each household member, and driver’s license or state-issued ID number (if applicable) for the head of household; and
- Residential address and mailing address (if mailing address is different)
Can I complete a DSNAP application for someone else? Or have someone complete one for me?
Applicants may name an Authorized Representative (AR) to apply for DSNAP benefits on their behalf. The head of household must authorize the person to serve as AR on their behalf, and the worker will need to speak to the head of household to confirm that they agree for the AR to speak on their behalf.
How will I know if I’m approved to receive DSNAP?
Most DSNAP applicants will be told on the phone immediately after completing their application whether they have been approved to receive DSNAP and, if so, the amount of benefits they will receive.
Applicants also will receive a letter by mail, confirming the eligibility decision made on their DSNAP application.
My DSNAP application was denied. How can I request a fair hearing to review the outcome?
Clients have 90 days from the date of DCFS's decision on a DSNAP case to appeal the department's decision. The decision letter you receive from DCFS will include instructions for filing an appeal. You will need to complete and sign the section below "Fair Hearing Information" and return it to the address indicated in the letter.
How much can I receive in DSNAP benefits?
DSNAP benefits are calculated based on household size.
Each additional household member
Can I buy hot food with my DSNAP card?
Using DSNAP benefits to purchase hot or prepared foods requires a federal waiver. There is currently a waiver in effect until October 28, 2021 allowing for benefits to be used to purchase hot or prepared foods. For more information, visit www.dcfs.la.gov/hotfoods.
How long do I have to use my DSNAP benefits?
Under federal rules, federal food assistance benefits will be expunged (or removed) from a recipient’s EBT card nine months after the benefits are issued, unless the card is used to make a purchase within this nine-month period. If the card is used, the benefits will remain on the card for nine months from the date of the last purchase.
Once benefits have been removed, they cannot be added back to the card.
EBT (Benefits) Cards
I have a DSNAP card from a previous disaster. Will it be reloaded if I’m approved for new DSNAP benefits?
No, you will be issued a new DSNAP card. Benefits will not be loaded to a previous DSNAP card even if there are funds still available on that card.
I lost my DSNAP card. What do I do?
Call the LAHelpU Customer Service Center at 1-888-524-3578 to report your card lost and request a new one.
How will I receive my DSNAP benefits?
DSNAP benefits will be loaded onto an EBT card and mailed to the applicant from DCFS' EBT contractor. Please note that your EBT card will be sent separately from your benefits approval letter.
Can I pick up my DSNAP benefits card in person?
DSNAP benefits cards will be mailed through the U.S. Postal Service to the applicant from the EBT contractor. (Please note that the card will be sent separately from the benefits approval letter.)
Applicants who do not have a mailing address can have their DSNAP card mailed to a DCFS office for pickup in-person.
PLEASE NOTE, however, that choosing to pick up a card in person will NOT speed receipt of the card and will actually DELAY receiving the card by an additional day or two. Therefore, it is important to provide a valid mailing address for receiving your DSNAP card if at all possible.
When should I expect my DSNAP card, and what do I do if it doesn't arrive?
Cards are being shipped from the EBT card contractor and delivered by the U.S. Postal Service, which can take up to two weeks (7-10 business days) for delivery.
NOTE: The DSNAP EBT card will be sent separately from your benefits approval letter.
If you don't receive your card in your expected timeframe, please contact our LAHelpU Customer Service Center at 1-888-524-3578 or LAHelpU.DCFS@la.gov.
You can call LAHelpU from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., M-F, except on holidays. To speak with a customer service representative, select your language, then press these numbers: 3-3-3-1. Tip: Call volumes are lightest in the first and last hours of the day.
If you send an email, provide your name as it appears in our records, your contact information, date of birth and the last four digits of your Social Security number. You should also include a brief description of your situation and reason for writing, as well as a descriptive subject line. Our staff will respond as quickly as possible, but they receive a great volume of requests. Please allow at least three or four business days for a response.
My DSNAP card has a $0 balance when I call. What’s going on?
This could happen for a couple of reasons:
(1) You must activate the card after you receive it for the balance to become available to you. The automated system will not tell you the balance on your card until the card has been activated. For information on how to activate your card, read “How do I activate my EBT card for DSNAP?” below.
(2) If you have an EBT card for another program (such as P-EBT, or a card from an old or denied SNAP case), when you call the EBT Customer Service Center to activate your DSNAP EBT card, you must make sure you enter the 16-digit card number from the DSNAP card. If you enter only your personal information (SSN, DOB, ZIP), the system may pull up your P-EBT or old SNAP account instead of your DSNAP account. For more information on how to activate your card, read “How do I activate my EBT card for DSNAP?” below.
If neither of these reasons applies, please call the LAHelpU Customer Service Center at 1-888-524-3578 to speak with someone about your case.
How do I activate my EBT card for DSNAP?
To activate your DSNAP EBT card, call the EBT customer service line at 1-888-997-1117, enter your 16-digit card number, and then listen for the option to select or reset your PIN. To set your PIN, you will need the last four digits of the Social Security number, date of birth and zip code for the mailing address of the Head of Household.
If the Head of Household did not provide a Social Security number during the DSNAP application process, the cardholder will need to call the LAHelpU Customer Service Center at 1-888-524-3578 to get the number needed to set the PIN and activate the DSNAP EBT card.
NOTE: If you have an EBT card for another program (such as P-EBT, or a card from an old or denied SNAP case), you must first enter the 16-digit card number from your DSNAP EBT card before setting your PIN. Otherwise, the system may pull up your P-EBT or old SNAP account instead of your DSNAP account.
PIN Options: Please note that PINs selected with any of the below patterns are not allowed: • Identical digits (1111, 2222, 3333, etc.) • Consecutive digits (1234, 2345, 3456, etc.) • Numbers that start with one or more zeroes (0657, 0051, 0001, etc.) • The last four digits of the cardholder’s Social Security number • The cardholder’s birthdate