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What to Expect at a Social Services Center

Coming to a Social Services Center can be an overwhelming and frustrating experience. We take care of hundreds of people who need help each day. We would like to explain some things about what you can expect when you come here - whether you are applying for some type of benefit (Temporary Assistance, SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), HEAP or Medicaid) or whether you already have an open case.

The Center Lobby

  1. Reception: When you arrive, see a receptionist. Some Centers have different lines for different programs such as Medicaid, Temporary Assistance, SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and HEAP (fuel). Check to see if you are on the right line. If there are different lines for different programs, there will be signs above the reception windows to tell you, or you can ask someone, including the Security Guard.
  2. Appointments: If you have any kind of appointment, bring your appointment letter so the receptionist can connect you with the right unit. If you don't have an appointment and wish to apply for benefits, the receptionist will give you an application to fill out.
  3. Emergencies: If you think you have an emergency, tell the receptionist right away. Emergencies that we may be able to help you with are: you are homeless, your landlord has told you that you must move, you have little or no food, you do not have fuel for heating, your utilities are shut off, you have no water or cooking gas.
  4. Speedy Requests: For many of your requests, you will need to fill out a form called a Speedy Request. The receptionist will give this to you if the forms are not available in the lobby. If we determine you need to be seen, you will be advised to wait. If you do not have to wait, your Speedy Request will be directed to your worker.
  5. Be Prepared to Wait: Bring food, drink and something to entertain your children. No food or drinks are allowed in the interview area. As the lunch hour approaches, if we know you will not be seen until after lunch, we will tell you so that you can leave for an hour without missing your appointment.
  6. Leaving the Building: You should try to avoid leaving the building before your name is called. If you go out of the building to have a cigarette or to purchase food from the truck before your name is called, we suggest you tell someone else waiting in the lobby. If your name is called while you are gone for five minutes, that person can then tell Reception where you are.
  7. Homeless: If you are homeless, you may have to be seen by more than one worker. You'll need to wait until a housing resource is obtained for you and this may take several hours.
  8. Emergency Shelters: If you need to be placed into an emergency shelter, all family members who need to be placed must be present in the Center. The emergency shelter may be located anywhere in Suffolk County.
  9. Order in Which Names Are Called: People come here for a variety of reasons to see workers who perform different functions. If people arrive after you but are taken care of before you, it is because they are here to see a different type of worker than you need to see.
  10. If We Send You to Another Center: There are five Social Services Centers. All of them handle Temporary Assistance/SNAP benefits according to where people live. Some of them also handle Medicaid Only cases and others handle energy emergencies for people not on Temporary Assistance. If you are not in the correct Center for your particular need, we will direct you to the correct Center.

Getting Documents and Important Information to Us

  1. At Social Services, we are required by law to obtain documentation of every eligibility factor. This means we have to ask you to prove or verify many circumstances in your life such as your living arrangements, income, Social Security numbers, birth details, divorce decrees, citizenship, etc.
  2. We may ask you to give us documentation that you think you already gave us. This may be because what you previously submitted is in a case record at a different location and not available to us.
  3. Sometimes you may submit papers to us that cause us to have more questions that need to be answered. Then we may need you to give us more documentation to answer those questions.
  4. If possible, you should bring original documents with you so that we can photocopy them for your case record.
  5. If you do not have an emergency or an appointment, your worker may indicate that you can send documentation to us by mail. We recommend that you do not send us original documents by mail.
  6. If you come in to drop off your documentation, the procedure is for you to leave the papers with the Receptionist. If you need a receipt, you may request one. Otherwise you can use the mail drop-off slot provided in some Centers so you don't have to wait on line.

At Your Appointment (Interview)

  1. We are required by law to obtain a lot of information about you and your household before you can be determined eligible for any benefits. The questions we must ask are often personal questions about sensitive matters. We are required to keep this information confidential.
  2. Always get the name of your Eligibility interviewer. Try to write it down. This person is responsible for your case until it is accepted or denied. If your case is accepted, you will be notified by mail. Then your case record is sent to the Undercare Team and assigned to another worker.
  3. People are often surprised at how little income and resources they are allowed to have to qualify for benefits. Also, the amounts of benefits are lower than some people expect. The person who is interviewing you does not set these standards. They are set by New York State.
  4. The job of the workers (Examiners) in the Centers is to determine eligibility for benefits. If you need to see a case worker about other problems, your Examiner can tell you where to call.

Suffolk County Government

H. Lee Dennison Bldg

100 Veterans Memorial Hwy
P.O. Box 6100
Hauppauge, NY 11788

Riverhead County Center

County Road 51
Riverhead, NY 11901