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What are entitlements?
Food Stamps
General Help Getting Entitlements
Information on Child Care Entitlements

What are entitlements?

Entitlements are programs that you are “entitled to” if you qualify. That generally means you get them automatically after you apply. (Important: See below for exceptions.) For example, if you go to your IL workshop, you are entitled to an IL stipend. Or, if your income is below a certain level, you are automatically entitled to food stamps. (And, at age 65, everyone gets the best entitlement of all: Social Security, which is money to live on in retirement.)

There are six important things to know about entitlements:

1) Which ones you are eligible for. Based on your circumstances, you may be eligible for housing, food stamps, formula for a new baby, etc. To find out exactly what you qualify for, talk with your lawyer or law guardian. They should know, or they can send you to a specialist who can tell you.

2) Entitlements are not handouts. The government and the big corporations know that if people do not get housing, enough food, or other kinds of basic provisions, they may be too stressed to be good citizens and employees. Entitlement programs are designed to help you stay healthy and productive because that helps you and it helps the whole society.

3) The government doesn’t come looking for you with these entitlements. You usually have to apply for them! It can be confusing. New York City is trying to make it easier by having one application for most entitlements. Even when they get a system in place, you’ll still have to be assertive and take responsibility tolearn what you’re eligible for, fill out the forms, go to the meetings, and do everything else that’s required.

4) Warning: Some entitlements are limited. The government does not always provide enough for everyone who qualifies. Make sure to ask if the program you're applying to can run out.

5) Warning: For some people, entitlements become a crutch. If you need help—with housing, or food for your newborn, or anything else--and there is a program to help you, make sure you get it. But in the long run you’ll have more freedom (and more money) if you can get a decent job. Everyone knows this, but for some people that government check is a little too comfortable. After a while it reduces their drive to do better. Youth in care, who have been in a government-run system for many years, have to be especially careful about thinking that they can kick back and everything will be provided for them. It won’t be! After you turn 18 or 21, lots of benefits disappear. And many of the entitlements you can get as an adult have time limits. Use entitlements as a tool for your future success, not as a crutch to prop yourself up.

6) Some entitlements come with responsibilities. For example, you must meet workfare requirements (such as attending job training) to receive public assistance and you must attend an independent living workshop to get the IL stipend.

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Food Stamps

To get a food stamp application, call the toll free New York State Temporary Assistance Hotline at 1-800-342-3009. Follow the prompts on the automated caller response system to find the address and phone number of the food stamp office for where you live. You can get more info and a link to the application portal at:

For a list of food stamp offices in New York City, click here or here.

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Medicaid is one of five New York City programs to help people who cannot afford medical care. To apply for Medicaid in New York City, contact the Human Resources Administration at 1-718-557-1399.

For more information on Medicaid and other health insurance programs, see:

For details on how to keep your Medicaid coverage when you age out of care, click here.

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The Home Energy Assistance Program provides help for people who are having trouble paying their electric, gas, and or heating bills during the winter months. The grants are $40 to $440 per year. There are HEAP offices in every borough. The applicant must meet the eligibility requirements. For example, the person applying must be the person named on the lease and must be paying the bill directly to the utility company. People on public assistance receive this grant automatically in their budget, where applicable.

For more information call 800-692-0557 or go to:

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General Help Getting Entitlements

The following organizations can help you get the benefits you are entitled to.

Access NYC

This free website is an easy way to find out what benefits you’re eligible for and how to apply. Fill in your information and it will screen you for over 30 federal, state, and city benefits programs. You can also find out where to go if you need to speak with someone in person.

Chinese American Planning Council

150 Elizabeth St.



Focusing on the Chinese American community in New York, this organization provides general social services ranging from mental health to public benefits to child welfare.

Food Bank's Community Kitchen
252 W. 116 St.
New York, NY 10026

Addresses food, hunger, nutrition, and income support issues in New York City. Provides direct services, including meals, and advocates for improved government policies and programs.

The Door

Youth community center with legal services department that can help with entitlement issues.

Food and Hunger Hotline: 1-866-888-8777

Provides food for needy individuals.

Lawyers for Children
110 Lafayette Street
New York City 10013

Legal help for youth in foster care.

Legal Aid Society

General civil legal services including: welfare, SSI, housing, divorce and related issues, custody, child support, domestic violence, guardianships, adoptions, foster care, and immigration.

Partnership for Children's Rights
Represent children in all types of civil legal matters, including custody/guardianship issues, abuse/neglect issues, public benefits, immigration issues, discrimination, and educational entitlements.

Legal Services NYC
Provides legal help in the areas of family, housing, benefits, consumer, and education law for individuals in Manhattan and will provide referrals to legal services organizations in other boroughs.

Medicaid Managed Care Helpline

New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG)
Provides legal help in areas of public assistance, food stamps, Medicaid, SSI.

R.E.A.P. (Resource Entitlement and Advocacy Program)
at Mt. Sinai Medical Center

Answers questions regarding Medicare, Medicaid, home care, income resources, food stamps, housing, legal services and community programs.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) (Social Security)
Information: 1-800-772-1213

Urban Justice Center
123 William St., 16th fl.
New York, NY 10038
Provides legal services, including benefits advocacy and eviction prevention services, for the city's most vulnerable residents.

WIC (Women, Infants & Children)
To apply call 1-800-522-5006
USDA nutrition program for mothers, babies and young children who are nutritionally at-risk.

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Information on Child Care Entitlements

Administration for Children’s Services (ACS)
Headstart and Daycare Program

or call 311

Center for Children's Initiatives
322 Eighth Ave., 4th fl.
New York, NY 10001
Provides childcare resources and referrals, advocacy, and public policy analyses.

South Brooklyn Legal Services
Child Care Network Support Project
Works with family child care providers and their networks to address legal issues in the child care field. Services include individual representation, policy advocacy, organizational support, and training.

Coalition for Asian American Children and Families
50 Broad St., 18th fl.
New York, NY 10004
Assists families with issues of childcare, child welfare, and family law.

Committee for Hispanic Children and Families

110 William St., Suite 1802
New York, NY 10038
Childcare resources and referrals.

Community Service Society's Benefits Plus Learning Center
For assistance determining eligibility for child care public assistance.

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