- Nutritional Assistance Program
- Auxiliary Grant Program
- Refugee Assistance
- Energy Assistance Program
- Employment Services
The purpose of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is to help with supplementing a household’s food budget to provide better nutrition in order to alleviate hunger and malnutrition. The program will meet its goals by permitting low-income households to obtain a more nutritious diet by helping to supplement all eligible households' food purchasing power. It is the intent of the U.S. Congress to promote the general welfare and to safeguard the health and well-being of the population of the Nation by raising levels of nutrition among low-income households.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture administers SNAP nationally through the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS). In Virginia, local departments of social services operate the Program at the county/city level under the supervision of the Virginia Department of Social Services. Households must file an application for SNAP benefits with the local social services agency in the locality where the household resides. Households may file applications in person, by mail, by fax, or online. Households may also file the application through an authorized representative.
Households must normally apply for SNAP benefits for all persons who reside together and who purchase and prepare food together.
The intent is also to help provide food in cases of emergency and financial disaster. A household’s eligibility for benefits is based on its monthly income, household composition, and shelter expenses. Eligible households in Virginia receive their SNAP benefits electronically. Households receive a plastic Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card with a magnetic strip and use a personal identification number (PIN) to access the benefits.
Federal law and the Virginia Human Rights Act, Virginia Code §2.2-2632 et seq., bar discrimination on the basis of age, race, sex, disability, religious creed, national origin, and political belief. The following civil rights laws apply for SNAP:
- Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. §794
- The Age Discrimination Act of 1975, 42 U.S.C. §6101 et seq.
- The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, 42 U.S.C. §12101 et seq.
- Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §2000d et seq.
Notice of Change
View the SNAP Notice of Change (PDF) online.
Temporary Assistance to Needy Families
The purpose of Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) is to:
- Encourage the formation and maintenance of 2-parent families
- End the dependence of needy parents on government benefits by promoting job preparation, work, and marriage
- Prevent and reduce the incidence of out-of-wedlock pregnancies
- Provide financial assistance to needy families so that children under age 18 may be cared for in their own homes by 1 or both parents, or in the homes of relatives
A child will not be eligible if born to or adopted by a TANF recipient more than 10 months after an applicant begins to receive TANF payments. The Division of Child Support Enforcement will send all support collected for this child directly to the family. This support will not count as income in the TANF program.
An assistance unit that includes an adult whose needs are included on the grant who has received 60 months of assistance under TANF as is not eligible for assistance.
Virginia's TANF program emphasizes personal responsibility. Participants may be provided with services such as job skills training, work experience, job readiness training, child care assistance, transportation and other work related expenses. TANF and TANF-UP has a work program component required for all non-exempt recipients. This work program is the Virginia’s Initiative for Education and Work (VIEW) program.
A program within TANF is Diversionary Assistance which is intended to prevent potential TANF recipients from becoming ongoing TANF recipients. If immediate intervention with short-term aid will resolve a 1-time emergency or crisis situation and prevent the need for ongoing TANF, the assistance unit may be granted diversionary assistance.
TANF-Emergency Assistance may be provided to needy families with children who are eligible for TANF or are receiving TANF (including recipients whose TANF case is currently suspended due to a VIEW sanction), when the family is facing eviction or has experienced a natural disaster or a fire that results in unmet needs for maintaining the household or the home itself, as long income eligibility is met. Natural disasters may include, but are not limited to, a tornado, hurricane, flood, a public health emergency, or any disaster as declared by the Governor. Persons need to apply for TANF to be screened for eligibility for this program.
The immediate needs which can be covered include items such as food, shelter items, clothing, repair or replacement of household equipment which has been destroyed or rendered unusable and moving or storage of household equipment. The total amount granted to a family under the EA Program shall not exceed $1500 during any 1 period of 30 consecutive days in any 12 consecutive months. Individuals applying for TANF-Emergency Assistance to prevent eviction must have received a Summons for Unlawful Detainer.
Medicaid is an assistance program that pays medical service providers for medical services rendered to eligible individuals and/or payment of Medicare premiums for certain qualifying individuals.
Persons applying for assistance in this program must fit into certain basic categories, such as the following:
- Certain referrals for breast and cervical cancer prevention and treatment
- Children under 19 years
- Adults aged 19-64
- Disabled individuals, adults over the age of 65, blind individuals, those needing assistance with nursing home, personal care or adult living facilities
- Family planning services for both men and women who are not eligible for full Medicaid
- Pregnant women
- Those persons associated with TANF eligibility
Family Access to Medical Insurance Security (FAMIS)
Family Access to Medical Insurance Security (FAMIS) program was created to meet the health care needs of Virginia's uninsured children between the ages of 0 through 18 years, in working families that earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to qualify for private health insurance. Learn more about FAMIS online.
Auxiliary Grant Program
Auxiliary Grant Program (AG) is an income supplement for individuals who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and certain other aged, blind, or disabled individuals who reside in a licensed assisted living facility (ALF), an approved adult foster care (AFC) home, or an approved supportive housing living arrangement.
An AG payment is issued to an individual monthly, to be used with a designated amount of their monthly income to pay an ALF, AFC, or a supportive housing facility a maximum monthly rate. This rate is determined by the Virginia General Assembly and is adjusted periodically.
The AG Program is 80% state funded and 20% locally funded and is administered by the Virginia Department of Social Services. It is only for individuals who reside in an ALF licensed by the Virginia Department of Social Services' Division of Licensing Programs or in an AFC home approved by their local department of social services. It may also include an approved supportive housing living arrangement for those individuals working with the local Community Services Board. Not all assisted living facilities accept AG payments.
Prior to admission to an ALF, an individual must be assessed by an adult services social worker at their local department of social services or another qualified assessor. Qualified assessors are employees of local health departments, area agencies on aging, centers for independent living, and community services boards who have received training on conducting assessments. The individual applying for an AG, or the individual’s designated representative, should contact an assessor and request the assessment.
AG applicants must complete an Application for Benefits and submit it to an eligibility worker at the local department of social services in the city or county where the individual lived prior to entering an institution such as an ALF, hospital or nursing home. The eligibility worker will evaluate the individual’s financial eligibility for AG. The worker has 45 days to process the application.
AG recipients also receive a personal needs allowance (PNA) for such items as clothing, medical co-payments, tobacco products, sodas, snacks, over-the-counter medications, dental care, eyeglasses, and activities or items an ALF or AFC provider is not required to provide.
Refugees are entitled to apply for the same benefits and service programs that are available to U.S. citizens. They may, therefore, be eligible to receive cash or medical assistance and may also take advantage of a number of service programs that are offered in Virginia.
Refugees who do not meet the requirements for mainstream programs--such as TANF, Medical Assistance, FAMIS, etc.--may be eligible for time limited Refugee Cash Assistance and Refugee Medical Assistance.
Refugee Cash Assistance
The Refugee Cash Assistance Program (RCA) provides time limited cash assistance to eligible populations that meet the financial criteria of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, but do not meet a non-financial criterion. For example, adults with no dependent children may receive RCA.
There is an 8-month time limit on the receipt of RCA. RCA recipients, who continue to meet TANF financial requirements, are eligible for RCA for up to 8 months from the date of arrival into the U.S. Virginia Department of Social Services’ Office of Newcomer Services (ONS) administers a refugee employment program called Refugee Social Services Employment Program (RSSEP). RSSEP services are delivered by service providers under contract with ONS to provide employment services tailored to the linguistic and cultural needs of refugee populations. RSSEP services focus on self-sufficiency and include job counseling, job application assistance, job development, job placement, job orientation, job retention, and English language instruction.
Individuals receiving assistance through the Matching Grant Program (MGP) are not eligible to receive RCA benefits concurrently. If determined eligible to receive RCA, the individual would be removed from the MGP.
Refugee Medical Assistance
The Refugee Medical Assistance (RMA) Program provides short-term health care coverage to newly arrived refugees and other eligible populations who are determined ineligible for Medicaid and meet the RMA program requirements. For example: Refugees who are Medicaid recipients, become ineligible for Medicaid due to increased earnings, and are within the RMA period of eligibility are eligible for RMA. There is an 8-month time limit on the receipt of RMA that most often begins the month of arrival to the U.S.
Energy Assistance Program
How to Apply:
Option 1: You may screen for eligibility for Energy Assistance and apply online through CommonHelp.
Option 2: Applications may be submitted via telephone by calling the Enterprise Customer Service Center at (855) 635-4370. The Customer Service Center accepts applications Monday through Friday, from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m.
Option 3: Applications may be submitted manually and returned to the local Department of Social Services.
An interview is not needed in order to have eligibility determined.
The Energy Assistance Program (EA) assists low-income households in meeting their immediate home energy needs. However, be aware that the Energy Assistance Program is not intended to meet the household’s total home energy cost during the heating season. Households must continue to make monthly payments on their bills. To be eligible, households must have a heating or cooling expense and gross monthly income may not exceed 130 percent of the federal poverty level. The Energy Assistance Program consists of 3 basic components:
- Fuel Assistance: This primarily provides assistance with purchasing home heating fuel. The application period runs from the second Tuesday of October through the second Friday of November. Credit Authorizations are sent to the appropriate heating vendor who is authorized to submit billing to the state for payment to the customer's account.
- Crisis Assistance: This is intended to meet a household’s emergency heating need. Assistance offered includes 1-time-only heat security deposit, purchase of home heating fuel, payment of heat utility bill, payment for emergency shelter, and/or heating equipment repair/purchase. Applications may be completed November 1 through March 15. Please note that assistance is based on availability of funds and purchase of home heating fuel and payment of heat utility bill begins January 1.
- Cooling Assistance: This component provides purchase of AC Window units, repair of cooling equipment and/or payment for electricity bills needed to operate cooling equipment. The application period for this component runs from June 15 through August 15. Please note that assistance is based on availability of funds.
Virginia Initiative for Employment Not Welfare
The Virginia Initiative for Education and Work (VIEW) is a program providing employment, education, and training opportunities to recipients of Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF). VIEW is based on the conviction that all citizens deserve the opportunity to progress to self-sufficiency.
VIEW offers Virginians living in poverty the opportunity to:
- Obtain work experience and work skills necessary for self-sufficiency;
- Contribute to the self-sufficiency of their families; and
- Achieve economic independence.
An assistance unit participating in the VIEW Program is limited to 24 months of TANF eligibility.
Snap Employment & Training
Voluntary program for SNAP recipients designed to help find and keep employment. Participation or nonparticipation in SNAPET will have no effect on SNAP benefits. However, not choosing to participate in the program, where offered, can prevent SNAP recipients from receiving services that could help them find and keep employment. A Plan of Participation is designed that takes into consideration the abilities, needs and wants of the job seeker to help lead to successful employment.