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Gothamist: NYC says food stamps and cash aid backlog is nearly gone after record delays

While a reduced backlog for SNAP and Cash assistance may seem promising, it’s important to acknowledge that this framing does not capture the complete picture. Abby Biberman, NYLAG’s Associate Director of the Public Benefits Unit, explained for Gothamist the significance of considering the numerous denied applications that aren’t necessarily reflected in the Administration’s reported numbers. 

“The Adams administration announced on Monday that it has nearly cleared the backlog of pending food stamp and cash aid cases, after more than a year of record-slow processing times and mounting outcry from beneficiaries and advocates. 

“Officials with the city Department of Social Services, the agency that oversees public benefits programs, said they have processed more than 600,000 applications since the summer by hiring 1,000 workers, investing in technology and making it easier to use online services. 

“The turnaround on processing cases within 30 days, as required under federal and state laws, is a major boon for New Yorkers grappling with an affordability crisis who were waiting more than a month for extra aid to buy groceries, pay rent or cover other necessities… 

Abby Biberman, associate director of the New York Legal Assistance Group’s public benefits unit, said she’s still concerned clients aren’t getting through on the phone to complete their required interviews and are getting their cases denied. 

“’We have seen this in other data produced, where there was an increase in the number of cases for failure to complete the interview, but you wouldn’t know it from the numbers the administration is providing here. We are continuing to explore the phone interview and other barriers to accessing benefits as we litigate the rest of the case,’ she said.”  

Read the full piece by Karen Yi in Gothamist from March 4, 2024. 

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