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Governor Paterson Spotlights Help for People Struggling in Mohawk Valley
Website Lets New Yorkers Check Eligibility, Apply for Aid

Albany, NY (December 30, 2009) - Governor David A. Paterson reminded New Yorkers in the Mohawk Valley about programs and services that can help them better cope with today's uncertain economy.  The Governor also reminded people who struggle to put food on the table to apply for many state programs, including home energy assistance, food stamp assistance and health insurance for children.  At the Governor's direction, New York has created a website where anyone can quickly and easily check their eligibility for benefits and services.

"During good economic times and especially during rough patches, State government is first and foremost accountable to New York's taxpayers," said Governor Paterson. "There is no doubt that the past year has been a turbulent time. We need remind New Yorkers about the expanded suite of State and federal programs that help working families, to reassure them that State government is committed to improving their lives."

"Although some say this brutal recession is ending, too many New Yorkers are still unemployed, struggling to provide food and shelter for themselves and their families," State Labor Commissioner M. Patricia Smith said. "Unemployment benefits can only stretch so far, and we urge anyone in need to take advantage of benefits and services offered through the website."

"We recognize that many of those hard hit by the downturn have never sought help before, and we're working to make it as easy as possible for those who are eligible to obtain benefits," said Elizabeth Berlin, Executive Deputy Commissioner of the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance. "The myBenefits site allows people to apply for food stamps without having to take time off from work, or from looking for work, to visit the local department of social services to apply. As a result of the numerous steps we've taken over the past two years to make it easier for those eligible to access food stamp benefits, New York State has been well-positioned to respond to the increased demand."

The myBenefits site, launched in May 2008, lets New Yorkers use a simple online prescreening to learn if they can qualify for multiple benefits. The benefits include: food stamps, home energy assistance, Earned Income Tax Credits, child and dependent care credits, Medicaid, Family Health Plus, Child Health Plus and school lunch programs, among others. There are plans to add other program screenings to myBenefits over time. The final goal is to help individuals and families apply for an array of programs by answering one set of simple questions online.

Residents of 25 counties -including Oneida and Schoharie -can already submit a food stamp application through the website with the assistance of designated community organizations. Additionally, residents of 12 counties - including Oneida- can use myBenefits to apply directly for food stamps from any computer with Internet access at any time convenient for them.

Between October 2008 and October 2009, the number of individuals receiving food stamp benefits in the Mohawk Valley has increased 20 percent, going from just over 51,000 people to more than 61,000. Statewide, enrollment grew 23 percent over the same period to nearly 2.6 million recipients, an all-time high.

To learn more about the programs New York State offers, visit and click on the link for "Resources for Working Families."