Tuesday is the last day to apply for benefits to make up for losses incurred during Tropical Storm Irene, but people in line when the Department of Social Services offices close will be issued “rain check” vouchers to return for application processing.

The benefits are available to low-income state residents who do not currently receive food assistance benefits and who incurred disaster-related expenses from the storm, including loss of income, temporary shelter costs and property repairs.

All 12 DSS field offices are accepting applications through 3:30 Tuesday.

“We urge the public to continue to be as patient as possible as our hard-working staff do their best to process a huge number of applications for this federal disaster assistance program,” DSS Commissioner Roderick L. Bremby said in a statement released by the department. “Everyone who meets the application deadline of tomorrow will be included in the process, even if we can’t get to their application by the end of the day. For those applicants, rain checks will be provided for returning on another day for priority service.”

The federal benefits, known as the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, have drawn huge crowds. Hundreds of people lined up early Monday morning outside the DSS offices in Hartford, New Haven, Bridgeport, Manchester, Stamford, Waterbury, New Britain and Willimantic, according to DSS. In three days last week, the department processed 3,701 applications. DSS temporarily reassigned staff to field offices to help handle the applications, and staff from End Hunger Connecticut, the Hispanic Health Council, the Connecticut Association for Human Services, the Manchester Area Council of Churches and Foodshare have also helped out.

For more information about the benefits, including a pre-screening tool and information about income limits, visit www.ct.gov/dss.

Arielle Levin Becker covered health care for The Connecticut Mirror. She previously worked for The Hartford Courant, most recently as its health reporter, and has also covered small towns, courts and education in Connecticut and New Jersey. She was a finalist in 2009 for the prestigious Livingston Award for Young Journalists, a recipient of a Knight Science Journalism Fellowship and the third-place winner in 2013 for an in-depth piece on caregivers from the National Association of Health Journalists. She is a 2004 graduate of Yale University.

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