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Basic SNAP Application Rights


How do I apply for SNAP?

  • You have the right to file an application on the same day you ask for it. You do not have to be interviewed first.
  • You can mail it, fax it, fill it out at your local DTA office or apply online. Applying online is fast and secure.
  •  You can also apply at the Social Security Office if everyone in your household is also applying for SSI or is having their SSI case reviewed.
  • If you can't fill out the whole form, you can send it with just your name, address, signature and date.
  • You can apply even if you are homeless. You do not need to have an address or pay rent to get SNAP.
  • DTA should give you, or mail to you, a list of all the proofs you need to bring to DTA. The worker has to help you get the proofs if you need help. If you don't have the proofs on the list, DTA must tell you about other ways you can prove what you need to prove. For example, if you do not have a state ID or birth certificate, the DTA worker has to tell you about other kinds of documents that will prove your identity.
  • If you are not comfortable speaking English and need help, DTA must use an intepreter.

Can I get help applying?

If you cannot apply on your own, you have the right to have an adult you trust apply for you as an “authorized representative,” and/or bring a friend to DTA just to help you apply. If you are not comfortable speaking English and need help, DTA must provide you with an interpreter or use a tele-language line interpreter.  

Do I have to go to an interview at the DTA office?

No. You can do your interview over the phone, unless you prefer to do the interview in person.

A worker may ask you to go to the office for an interview if the worker thinks the information you give over the phone is "questionable" (if the worker thinks you are committing fraud). This should not happen in most cases.

Can I get SNAP right away?

You have the right to get emergency SNAP within 7 days if:

  • your income is less than $150 a month and you do not have more than $100 of savings; or
  • your rent or mortgage plus utilities is higher than your monthly income and savings; or
  • you are a migrant worker (this means you travel from place to place for work. 

DTA should give you an "electronics benefits transfer" or EBT card and PIN the day you walk in to the office. Otherwise, they should mail these to you right away. DTA will put benefits on your EBT card within 7 days of when you apply if you are eligible for expedited benefits. 

    You have the right to a written notice of denial or approval. If the notice denies or cuts your SNAP, it must say why. If the notice says you will get SNAP, it must say the amount you will get and for how long. 

    How do I use the EBT SNAP card?

    Your benefits are loaded onto a plastic card that looks like an ATM or debit card. Once your EBT case is approved, your SNAP benefits will be on the card. You can use the card at supermarkets and some smaller food stores, and at some farmers markets. Some SNAP households also qualify for cash assistance. If you do, your cash benefits are loaded onto the same EBT card.

    What if I am denied or my SNAP benefits are stopped?

    You have the right to appeal any DTA decisions you disagree with. To keep getting your SNAP while you wait for a hearing, send the appeal within 10 days of the date on the notice.

    The Appeal form is on the back of the notice. Fill it out and fax it, or a letter requesting a hearing, to the Division of Hearings at (617) 348-5311. You can also mail it to:

    Division of Hearings, DTA
    P.O. Box 4017
    Taunton, MA 02780-9805  

    Keep a copy of the appeal, and call the Division of Hearings at (617) 348-5321 or 1-800-882-2017 to make sure that they got it. 

    You also have the right to ask for a hearing if your worker threatens you, does not follow the rules, violates your privacy or does not treat you with dignity and respect.

    You can bring a friend, family member, advocate or lawyer to help you at a hearing or any other business you have with the Department. Contact Legal Services right away to ask for help with your appeal. 

    If you have a question about your SNAP or need help, contact:

    • Project Bread FoodSource Hotline: 1-800-645-8333 Mon - Fri, 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM.
    • DTA Recipient Services: 1-800-445-6604 (toll free).
    • Your local legal services office. To find your local legal services office, go to Find Legal Aid and type in the name of your town or click on your county on the map and then find the name of your town or the one nearest to you.

    Produced by Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
    Last updated November 2013


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