If you meet the criteria for a low-income family or individual, it can feel like you’re all alone in the world. Everything can be a struggle, from getting medical care to maintaining housing. But, as alone as you might feel, the Suffolk County Department of Social Services is available to help.

Find out what the Suffolk County Department of Social Services is and what services it offers. Then, get the answers to some frequently asked questions about the Suffolk County Department of Social Services. Then, you can take the steps necessary to apply for and receive services.

What Is the Suffolk County Department of Social Services?

The Suffolk County Department of Social Services provides a safety net for Suffolk County residents. If you need financial help or support, you can apply for a program through the department.

First, you need to know what services the Suffolk County Department of Social Services offers. Then, you can choose the program or programs to apply for so you can receive benefits. 

What Services Do They Provide?

The Suffolk County Department of Social Services provides various services to help Suffolk County residents. These services include:

·       Child Care Subsidies

·       Temporary Assistance

·       Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

·       Suffolk Works Employment Program (SWEP)

·       Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP)

·       Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP)

·       Burial assistance

·       Medicaid

Child Care Subsidies

Balancing work and raising kids is difficult enough without factoring in the high cost of child care. Unfortunately, child care is so expensive that you might even be considering quitting your job. It can be hard to justify working when you’re barely making enough to pay for daycare.

Fortunately, the Suffolk County Department of Social Services offers child care subsidies that reduce or eliminate the cost of daycare and child care programs.

You have to meet the financial and program criteria to quality. Also, you must have a child or children between the ages of six weeks to 12 years. However, if you have a special needs child, you might qualify for subsidies until the child turns 18.

Temporary Assistance

Suffolk County has temporary cash programs for individuals and families that need financial support. You might be eligible to use one of these programs to pay for your expenses if you are out of work, unable to work, or don’t make enough money to handle all of your bills.

You can apply for:

·   Family Assistance

·   Safety Net Assistance

·   Emergency Assistance

Family Assistance is available to families with at least one minor child at home. The money can be used for utilities, shelter, and food but cannot go toward medical expenses.

You can only receive up to 60 months of Family Assistance during your lifetime, but it doesn’t have to be during the same period. For example, if you received 10 months of assistance in 2020, you are still eligible to receive an additional 50 months.

Safety Net Assistance is also an option. You might be eligible to receive this, even if you applied for and were denied Family Assistance. It’s open to singles, couples, families, and children who don’t live with adult relatives.

You can only receive the cash benefit for a maximum of two years. Like Family Assistance, this doesn’t have to be two consecutive years. Instead, the department reviews your case file to see if you have received it in the past.

Sometimes, two years isn’t enough to get back on your feet. Fortunately, you can still receive Safety Net Assistance. However, the Suffolk County Department of Social Services won’t pay you directly.

Instead, you’ll receive non-cash assistance. This simply means that the Suffolk County Department of Social Services will send the money to the service provider instead of paying you. For instance, the department might pay your landlord directly instead of giving you the money.

Finally, you might be eligible for emergency assistance. The Suffolk County Department of Social Services offers:

·   Emergency Assistance to Adults (EAA)

·   Emergency Assistance to Needy Families (EAF)

·   Emergency Safety Net Assistance (ESNA)

This is a good option if you have an emergency situation and need money quickly. Homelessness and the threat of domestic violence are both examples of potential emergencies that would allow you to qualify for emergency assistance.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

Senior citizens, people with disabilities, low-income individuals and families, and others who face financial barriers to purchasing food can qualify for the SNAP program. You’ll receive an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card to use at authorized food stores if you’re approved.

Benefits are allotted based on income level and family size. For instance, if you live by yourself, you can receive up to $204 a month. However, if you’re part of a family of eight, you can receive up to $1,224 a month.

The Suffolk County Department of Social Services will transfer funds to your account each month, so you don’t have to go back to the office to receive your benefit. Then, you can swipe the card when paying for food, and the amount will be debited from your account.

Suffolk Works Employment Program (SWEP)

Temporary assistance and SNAP aren’t long-term solutions to your financial problems. Because of that, you can enroll in the Suffolk Works Employment Program if you receive temporary assistance or SNAP benefits.

Through the program, you’ll learn essential job skills to help you reach your employment goals. The staff will also help you with your resume and provide guidance to help you during interviews. Then, you can find gainful employment, so you won’t need temporary assistance or SNAP benefits. 

This makes the Suffolk County Department of Social Services stand out. The department isn’t just there to provide a safety net. It also strives to help you get on your feet and stay there for good.

Home Energy Assistance Program

New York gets cold in the winter, and if you cannot afford to heat your home, you could be at risk. The Suffolk County Department of Social Services offers the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) to ensure that low-income individuals and families get the heat they need. The program provides regular and emergency benefits to those who qualify.

HEAP benefits are based on your income, household size, heating source, and age of the family members. Children five and under and adults 60 and over are part of the vulnerable population. If you have anyone in that age group living with you, you’ll be eligible for a higher amount each month. 

Emergency Rental Assistance Program

If you are homeless or at risk for becoming homeless, you might qualify for emergency housing through the Suffolk County Department of Social Services. After assessing your situation, you can receive a referral to get into emergency housing. The department will pay for one month of housing. Then, you will need to take over the payments.

Burial Assistance

Losing a loved one is difficult enough when there is money to pay for the burial. However, someone on temporary assistance might not have an insurance policy or the funds to pay for a burial.

If your loved one was on temporary assistance when he or she passed away, the Suffolk County Department of Social Services might pay for the burial. The department also pays for the burial of stillborn infants. You can undergo a pre screening online to see if the department will pay for a basic burial.

The Suffolk County Department of Social Services will pay up to $1,200 for qualified applicants. It extends the benefit to legal residents, as well as those who are not in the country legally.


Paying for medical care can be all but impossible if you are a low-income individual. Fortunately, the Suffolk County Department of Social Services also oversees the state’s Medicaid program. If you qualify, you can use Medicaid to cover:

·   Outpatient medical care

·   Inpatient services

·   Physician services

·   Diagnostic services

·   Screening for children

·   Skilled nursing care

·   CDPAP home health care

·   Medical transportation

This program is open to low-income and very low-income Suffolk County residents. You also must meet any additional retirement. These requirements are:

·   Be 65 or older

·   Pregnant

·   Caring for a child 18 or younger

·   Blind

·   Disabled or caring for a family member with a disability

You only have to meet one of the additional requirements.

How Can I Sign Up?

You can sign up for social services online. The website you’ll use will depend on the benefits you want to access. You can visit the Suffolk County Department of Social Services’ website to find out which website to use.

You also have the option of calling or visiting an office.

Office Locations

The Department of Social Services has five service centers available. If you would like to sign up for services, call or contact the closest office.

Riverhead Center

893 E. Main Street

Riverhead, NY 11901-2542

Phone: 631-852-3500

Coram Center

80 Middle Country Road

Coram, NY 11727

Phone: 631-854-2300

Smithtown Center

200 Wireless Boulevard

Hauppauge, NY 11788

Phone: 631-853-8714

South West Center

2 South 2nd Street

Deer Park, NY 11729

Phone: 631-854-6600

MacArthur Center

3455 Veterans Memorial Highway

Ronkonkoma, NY 11779

The MacArthur Center only handles child support enforcement and family and children services. You can’t apply for other services at this location.

FAQ About Social Service Benefits in Suffolk County

Do you still have some questions about social service benefits? Get the answers to the most common questions Suffolk County residents have.

How Do I Apply for Medicaid in Suffolk County, NY?

You can apply for Medicaid over the phone by calling 855-355-5777 or online at www.nystateofhealth.ny.gov.

You can also apply at the Department of Social Service’s Riverhead or Smithtown office.

How Do I Apply for Food Stamps in Suffolk County?

You can apply online at www.mybenefits.ny.com. If you prefer, you can also apply at one of the Department of Social Services offices. You can choose from the Riverhead, Smithtown, Coram, and South West Center locations.

When you apply, make sure that you have:

·   Proof of identity (driver’s license, social security card, etc.)

·   Social security cards and birth certificates for your children

·   Proof of income, if applicable

·   Proof of your liquid resources

How Much Money Can You Have in the Bank and Still Get Food Stamps?

Suffolk County doesn’t require most applicants to pass a savings/resource test before getting food stamps. That means the amount of money you have in your bank account won’t impact your eligibility to receive benefits. Instead, you just have to meet the income guidelines.

Even so, you still need to bring your bank account information with you when you apply. This is referred to as “liquid resources.”

Can I Get SNAP Benefits While on Unemployment?

You can get SNAP benefits while on unemployment. In fact, many Suffolk County residents rely on SNAP benefits while looking for jobs.

Who Is Eligible for Cash Assistance in Suffolk County?

Eligibility for Family Assistance and Safety Net Assistance is based on various factors, such as family size and income level. Instead of releasing specific guidelines, the county states that you can determine if you’re eligible by applying with your county’s Department of Social Services. However, if you live in New York City, you’ll apply at your local job Center.

Emergency assistance has different eligibility requirements. You must be experiencing an emergency. Examples of emergencies include:

·   Homelessness

·   Disconnected utilities

·   Domestic violence

You can apply for and receive emergency assistance, even if you aren’t eligible for temporary assistance. The Suffolk County Department of Social Services will review your case to see if you’re eligible. Call the office or visit in person.

Seek Help When Needed

If you need financial assistance, don’t hesitate to reach out to the Suffolk County Department of Social Services. The professional staff will match you up to the resources you need so you can get back on your feet.

There is no shame in seeking help as needed. In fact, getting help can be the first step in achieving financial freedom.

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