How do I apply?
Applying for public assistance benefits is free. Clients can apply online for free by using the Office of Economic Self Sufficiency Self Service Portal or by visiting a DCF Community Partner. If you believe you have been charged a fee inappropriately or have suspected fraud to report, please do so here.
24/7 ESS self service portal (benefit information)
The quickest way to make changes or check the status of your benefits, while avoiding a wait time, is to use the Self-Service Portal, which is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Additionally, In addition to around the clock access to your case, you can also submit requested verification to the department using the document upload feature. Log into your account. If you have not registered for an account, register here today
You can also get information about your application or benefits by using our automated response system at (850) 300-4323. Your case number or Social Security Number and date of birth are required to get your case information.
PLEASE NOTE - You may want to allow at least two weeks before calling to check the status of your application.
How long will it take to complete an application?
On average, it takes about 30 minutes for most of our customers to complete the online application. This is the quickest way to apply. Once you finish filling out the application, you may submit it to DCF automatically by using our e-signature option.
What happens next?
It may take up to 30 days to process your application (longer if you need a disability determination). We encourage you to opt-in for email notifications. Once you opt in, you will receive an email alert when we post a notice in your account. If you do not sign up for email notification we will send your notices by post.
STEP 1: Your application is reviewed to see if you need an interview.
- If you need an interview:
- We will call you within 5 days at the phone number you provided. If we can’t reach you we will leave a message and send a notice with our contact information.
- During your interview, we will ask questions about your household situation.
- You may also be asked questions to help us verify your identity.
STEP 2: You may need to provide additional information.
- We will give or send a notice to you showing what is needed.
- The notice will give you a deadline to provide the required information. Some examples are:
- Proof of identity, citizenship, and noncitizen status.
- Proof of earned and unearned income for each household member (such as last four weeks of check stubs, child support, notices from Social Security or Veteran’s Administration)
- You can mail, fax, upload your documents in your ESS self service portal t, or turn in information at a local office or community partner. Please write your ACCESS # or case #, name, date of birth, phone number, etc., on all of the information you give us.
- Allow 3 days for your account to show your information was received.
STEP 3: Your information has been received and your application is being processed.
STEP 4: Your eligibility is determined.
- Food Assistance or Cash Assistance:
- If you are eligible for the first time, and your case is approved, you will be mailed an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card with a brochure that tells you how to use your card.
- If you received benefits in the past 24 months and still have an EBT card, you can use that card if your case number is the same and the card is not expired (see Good Thru date on the card).
- If you no longer have your EBT card or your card has expired, please contact EBT customer service at 1-888-356-3281 for a replacement.
- If you are reapplying and it has been more than 24 months since you received food or cash assistance, a new EBT card will automatically be mailed to you.
- If you are eligible for Medicaid you will receive a gold card in the mail for eligible household members. The Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) will send Medicaid Choice Counseling information to you if you need to select a managed care plan.
- If you are not eligible for one or all benefits (food or cash assistance or Medicaid):
- You will receive a notice in the mail and in your ESS self-service portal with the reason(s) you are not eligible.
Are there any other places I can go to for help?
More services are available to you from other agencies and organizations. Click here to see a list of other state and federal programs you may find helpful.