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Frequently Asked Questions

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General Questions

Where is the Charlottesville Department of Social Services located?
We are located in the City Hall Annex at 120 Seventh Street, N.E., on the Second Floor.

What are the hours of operation?
We are open Monday through Friday, from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm unless closed in observance of a city holiday.  If needed, appointments can be scheduled outside of our regular hours of operation upon request.     

What programs are offered by the Charlottesville Department of Social Services?
We administer several different Benefits and Family Services programs.

Do I contact the Charlottesville Department of Social Services for issues regarding Child Support?
No, in Virginia, child support issues are handled through the Division of Child Support Enforcement.

My address is in Charlottesville. Does that mean I am a city resident?
Not necessarily. Charlottesville encompasses the City of Charlottesville and Albemarle County.  

How do I contact my benefits case worker?
Call the main number, (434) 970-3400, and ask to speak with your case worker or send an electronic message.

If I move to Charlottesville from another locality, will my benefits transfer?
Yes, with the exception of Child Care.

How do I report child abuse or neglect?
Contact the Charlottesville Department of Social Services by calling (434) 970-3400. If the office is closed, please contact the state hotline at 1-800-552-7096.

How do I report adult abuse or neglect?
Contact the Charlottesville Department of Social Services by calling (434) 970-3400 or submit an online report. If the office is closed, please contact the state Hotline at 1-888-832-3858.

PLEASE NOTE: The online form is to report abuse or neglect issues that are occurring in the City of Charlottesville. To report issues in other localities, please use the toll-free hotline number above.

How do I learn more about becoming a foster parent?
By contacting the Charlottesville-Area Foster Families program at (434) 970-3735.


How to Apply for Benefits

How can I find out if I am eligible for benefits?
You may use the online eligibility questionnaire to help determine whether you are eligible for benefits.

Please note this questionnaire is only a pre-screening tool. The final decision regarding eligibility must be made by a Charlottesville Department of Social Services eligibility worker.

Are there any general requirements?
Yes, in order to apply you must meet the following criteria:
- You must live in Virginia.
- You must be a United States Citizen or meet certain requirements if you are an immigrant.
- You must apply at the agency serving the city or county in which you live.
- You must meet the specific requirements of each program for which you are applying.

How can I get an application for benefits?
You can apply online through commonhelp.  If you do not have a personal computer, public kiosks are available in our lobby to submit online applications.  Staff are available to provide assistance if needed.   Blank applications can also be printed if preferred.  Please note that adobe acrobat reader is needed to open the application.  Applications for benefits are also available at our office in the city hall annex or you may call us at (434) 970-3400 and request that an application be mailed to you.

Where do I return my paper application?
You may return a paper application by mail or bring it to our office.  Our mailing address is:
Charlottesville Department of Social Services
Post Office Box 911
Charlottesville, Virginia 22902-0911

Will someone contact me about my application?
Yes. For most programs you will need to meet with an eligibility worker to verify your information. Please call us at (434) 970-3400 for the current interview schedule.

Will I need to provide any sort of documentation?
Yes, Federal, State, and local policies require that certain verifications are provided before your application can be processed. Your eligibility worker will advise you as to what specific information will be needed. Some examples of the requested verifications are:
Proof of identity (Driver’s license or other valid picture identification)
Birth Certificates for children
Social Security numbers for all household members
Verifications of all income for the prior month, such as:
- Pay stubs
- Social Security Checks
- Child Support
- Unemployment Compensation
- Pensions and other retirement income
Verification of living expenses
- Rent or mortgage payment
- Utility bills (electric, gas, phone)

How soon will I know if my application has been approved?
With some exceptions, a decision must be made within:
- 45 days of application for medical assistance.
- 30 days of application for food stamps and financial assistance (seven days if the household qualifies for expedited services).

My application was denied because I could not provide all of the requested information. Can I re-apply?
Yes, you may re-apply at any time


SNAP (Formerly Known as Food Stamps) Questions

Who is eligible for SNAP Benefits?
Anyone who meets the established income and resource limits may be eligible for Food Stamps.

When do I get my SNAP benefits?
If you are approved and remain eligible, your ongoing benefits will be available on the first day of each month by 12:00 noon.

How do I get my SNAP benefits?
Each month that you are eligible for SNAP benefits, your benefits will be added to your Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card automatically.

What is a PIN?
PIN stands for Personal Identification Number. Your PIN is a four-digit number you must use with your EBT card. The PIN is how the computer matches the card to your account and you.

What if I forget my PIN?
If you are in the grocery store and enter the wrong PIN, you have three more chances that day to enter the correct PIN. If you do not enter the correct PIN on the fourth try, a “lock” is put on your account and you will not be able to use your card until the next day. If you cannot remember your PIN, contact the local social services agency to create a new PIN.

Where can I shop with my EBT Card?
Authorized EBT retailers will display either the Quest logo or a picture of the Virginia EBT card. If you do not see these signs, ask the store manager or a clerk if they accept EBT before you start shopping.

What if I forget my card when I go to the grocery store?
You cannot use your SNAP benefits to buy food without your EBT card and PIN.

What if I get an error message when I am trying to check out?
There are three error messages that could come up on the Point of Sale Terminal when you are trying to check out:
1. CARD NOT ON FILE: If you get this message, call the customer service help line at 1-866-281-2448.
2. INVALID PIN: If you get this message, you have entered your PIN incorrectly. If you do not enter the correct PIN by the fourth try, a “lock” is put on your account.
3. INSUFFICIENT BALANCE: Before you shop, check your balance. If you get this message, you have tried to spend more than the balance on your EBT card. If your groceries cost more than what you have on your card, you can put some of the items back or pay for the rest another way.

Any time you get an error message that you do not understand, call the toll free Customer Service Help Line at 1-866-281-2448 .

What if I lose or damage by EBT Card?
If your EBT card is lost, stolen, or damaged, call the toll-free Customer Service Help-Line at 1-866-281-2448 to report it. A new card will be mailed to you on the next business day or you can contact your worker to request a new card and come in and receive a replacement.

Will I be charged for a replacement EBT Card?
Yes, a $2.00 replacement fee will be charged and will be deducted from the balance on your EBT Card.

Will my PIN change if I receive a replacement card?
No, the PIN will stay the same unless you request that it be changed.

What if I don’t want to use all of my benefits in one month?
The SNAP benefits you do not use stay on your EBT card until you use them. However, if you don’t use your card for 90 days, your benefits will be frozen and you must contact your worker to re-activate your account.

What if I plan to move or change my address?
Call your case worker. You must always report changes in your address, living arrangements, and/or income to your worker.

What if I have questions about my EBT card?
Call the toll free Customer Service Help Line at 1-866-281-2448 . This line is open 24 hours, every day, for your questions.

How can I check my EBT Account Balance?
You can check your EBT account balance online at or by calling the toll free Customer Service Help Line at 1-866-281-2448 .