Benefit Programs


Benefit Programs

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Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) – The purpose of the SNAP, formerly known as “food stamps” is to help with supplementing a household’s monthly food budget to provide better nutrition in order to alleviate hunger and malnutrition.  A household’s eligibility for benefits is based on its monthly income, household composition, and allowable 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.

In accordance with the Federal law and U.S. Department of Agriculture policy, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, religion, political beliefs, or disability.  To file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272 (voice) or (202) 720-6382 (TTY). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) – The TANF program provides eligible families with a monthly cash payment to meet their basic needs. For a child to be eligible he must be:

  • Under age 18, or if 18, will graduate from high school before age 19
  • Going to school regularly if he is between the ages of five and 18
  • Living with a parent or other relative
  • A U.S. citizen or an eligible immigrant

The TANF program can sometimes assist with a payment when a TANF eligible family experiences a fire, flood, or other disaster.  Applicants must be screened and determined eligible for the TANF program.

The Diversionary Assistance component of TANF is intended to prevent potential TANF recipients from becoming ongoing TANF recipients. If immediate intervention with short-term aid will resolve a one-time emergency or crisis situation and prevent the need for ongoing TANF, the assistance unit may be granted diversionary assistance.  Eligibility criteria are specific and payments are made directly to the vendor in most cases.

The Code of Virginia, §63.2, requires that the TANF program be administered in accordance with federal and state statutes and regulations and policies established by the State Board of Social Services.

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.

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.

Medical Assistance – There are several Medical Assistance Programs offered in Virginia. Each program covers different groups of people and each program has different eligibility requirements. When you apply for Medical Assistance, you are screened for all possible programs based on your age, income, financial resources, and other information. To be eligible for a Medical Assistance Program, you must meet the financial and non-financial eligibility conditions for that program.  The covered groups are:

  • Children Under Age 19
  • Pregnant Women
  • Newborn Child Under Age of One (PDF)
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Recipients
  • Adults Aged 65 or Older, Blind or Disabled (not receiving SSI)
  • Children or Adults Who Need Long-term Care in a Facility/Home & Community-based Care (Waiver) Services
  • Medicare Beneficiaries
  • Plan First – Family Planning Services
  • Breast & Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program

Persons found eligible receive a Medicaid Card to present to their medical service provider.  To apply for Medical Assistance, you may complete a paper application form, apply online by visiting or calling CoverVA at 1-855-242-8282.

Auxiliary Grant Program (AG) – The AG Program provides income supplements to recipients of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and certain other aged, blind, or disabled individuals residing in a licensed assisted living facility (ALF) or an approved adult foster care home (AFCH), licensed by the state Department of Social Services. This assistance is to ensure that  adults are able to maintain a standard of living that meets a basic level of need. Not all ALF’s accept AG recipients.

An individual’s AG payment includes a personal allowance. This money may be used by the adult for such things as medical co-payments, over-the-counter and non-prescription medications, prescriptions not covered by Medicaid, dental care, eye glasses, clothing, personal toiletries, snacks, sodas and activities not provided by the ALF or AFC provider.

Before an individual can receive an AG, eligibility for the program must be determined by the local department of social services in the locality where the adult resided prior to admission to the ALF

Energy Assistance Programs (EA) – EA assists low-income households in meeting their immediate home energy needs. The Energy Assistance Program is intended to supplement the household’s total home energy cost during the heating season. All persons living in the home should be listed on the application.  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 three 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. Applicants we receive notice in late December and payments will be made directly to the vendor in most cases.
  • Crisis Assistance: This is intended to meet a household’s emergency heating need. Assistance offered includes one-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. NOTE: Assistance is based on availability of funds.
  • Cooling Assistance: This component provides purchase or 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. NOTE: Assistance is based on availability of funds. Clients must be 60 or older, disabled, or have a child under six in the home.
  • Weatherization Assistance — Applies to Energy efficiency & Air Filtration

The Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) administers this program. For details, visit their website.

For more information about the Virginia Department of Social Services or its programs, visit:

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