What proofs (verifications) do I need and how do I get them to DTA?

When you sign a SNAP application, you are agreeing that everything stated on the application and other information you provide is “true under the pains and penalties of perjury.” 

The SNAP rules also require that you provide proof of certain mandatory eligibility factors. This includes proof of:

  • Your identify
  • Residence in Massachusetts
  • Earned and unearned income
  • Immigrant status if not a U.S. citizen
  • Disability, if to claim medicals expenses and/or uncapped shelter costs, and for certain legal immigrants subject to a 5 year wait.

During the interview, the DTA worker should verbally tell you what proofs are required and ask if you need their help getting them. 106 C.M.R.§§ 361.550.

DTA should them send you a verification checklist (called a “VC-1”) and give you at least 10 days to get the mandatory proofs back to them.

DTA must give you a full 30 days from the day you apply before they send a denial notice. If you had an interview but some proofs are still missing by Day 30, DTA will send you a “pending denial notice”. 106 C.M.R. § 361.930. This means you have another 30 days to get them missing proofs and not have to reapply. See Can I get my SNAP case reopened if I am denied for lack of proofs? if your proofs get in late.

Proofs DTA may ask you for:

DTA cannot limit proofs to any single document. Any document that proves an eligibility factor should be accepted. 106 C.M.R. §§ 361.640(A), 361.650.  If you have trouble getting any of this information, ask DTA for help!  The following are examples of what DTA needs:

■    Identity of the head of household:  Documents with your name on it such as:

  • Driver’s license or Mass. ID
  • Birth certificate or hospital birth record
  • Other government or court documents
  • School or work records
  • Any other document that shows who you are

The head of household must verify identity. DTA can also verify your identity and the identity of other household members by doing a data check using the name, date of birth and SSN.106 C.M.R. § 361.610(G). If you have been on SNAP before in Massachusetts DTA should not ask you to prove your identity a second time.

■    Massachusetts’ residence: Documents with both your name and current address,106 C.M.R.§ 361.610(H), such as:

  • Lease, rent receipt or Landlord Verification form
  • Deed or mortgage statement
  • Utility bill
  • Mass. driver’s license or Mass. ID with current address
  • Voter registration
  • Statement from someone you live with
  • Statement from someone who knows where you live

DTA cannot require a landlord statement if you have other proof of residence. DTA should also be able to confirm your residence through the Registry of Motor Vehicles if you have a MA state ID or driver’s license with your current address.

If you just came to the area, you are homeless or you are a migrant worker, you do not need to verify residence. 106 C.M.R. § 362.120.  If you moved after you applied for or were approved for SNAP, see If I move, how do I report my new address?.

■    Current earnings:  Proof of any pay you got in last 4 weeks (unless you just started work), 106 C.M.R. §§ 361.610(A), 363.210(G)(1), including:

  • Paystubs or pay envelopes
  • A letter from your employer showing gross income.
  • Other proof of gross income (before taxes

If your employer uses “The Work Number” (aka Equifax) for employee information, DTA can get your current earnings from that source. If DTA gets your earnings from The Work Number, you do not also have to give them wage stubs. Large employers like Dunkin Donuts, Home Depot and other businesses increasingly use this service.

If you cannot get proof of your earnings (for example your employer refuses to give it to you), ask DTA to contact the employer directly – called “collateral contact” with a third party. SNAP rules require DTA to accept the best evidence available for verification of income, which could be a self-declaration if nothing else. 106 C.M.R. § 361.610(A) and 106 C.M.R. §363.210(G)(3):

“If all attempts to verify gross income are unsuccessful because the person or organization providing the income has failed to cooperate with the household and the Department, and all other sources of verification are unavailable, the Department shall determine the amount to be used for certification purposes based on the best available information.”

DTA changed the SNAP regulation in January 2017 to require that proof of earnings must include both the amount and number of hours worked. Proof of hours is not required in the federal SNAP rules. 7 C.F.R. § 273.2(f)(1)(i).  The only time you need to prove hours of work is if you are an ABAWD or a college student claiming 20 hours/week of work. See
What is the What is the "ABAWD” 3-month limit for persons age 18 to age 50? and What if I am a college student?

Contact Legal Services if you case is denied because DTA claims you did not prove hours of work (for example, if you do piece work or are paid by the job, not by the hour).

■    Last day of work:  If your last day of work was within 30 days before the date of your application, DTA will need to know when you were last paid and how much you were paid. This income counts for the first month of your SNAP. 106 C.M.R. § 364.300.

If your last day of work was more than 30 days ago, in some situations DTA can ask you for proof of the last day you worked and why you left your job. This is required only for individuals subject to the SNAP work registration rules, and only if you voluntarily left your job in the past 60 days. See What are the rules if I recently quit a job or I am on strike? for more details about voluntary quit.

DTA may ask for proof if they decide the information you gave on your application or during the interview is considered questionable. 106 C.M.R. § 362.340 (F).

■    Unearned income:

DTA can confirm a lot of unearned income directly through different databases. 106 C.M.R. § 363.210(G)(2). For example, DTA should confirm:

  • Social Security (RSDI) or SSI through Social Security Administration (SSA)
  • Unemployment Insurance through the Division of  Unemployment Assistance (DUA)
  • Child support you get through the MA Department of Revenue

DTA should only ask you to verify these types of income if there is an issue getting it from the database or if the information they got does not match what you reported. If they ask you for proof, ask for an explanation of why DTA could not get the information.

If you have other unearned income such as a pension or workman’s compensation, send DTA proof such as:

  • Benefit or award letter
  • Check or record of payment
  • Statement from agency making payments

■    Self-employment:

DTA needs copies of any tax returns or business records that show the profit earned on self-employment and your business expenses. 106 C.M.R. § 365.940. If you have not filed tax returns, any other documents that reasonably prove your income should be accepted (including a sworn statement in limited situations).

Try to verify all your business expenses to reduce countable income.  See How is self-employment income counted?.  If you get money from renting out a room or apartment in your home or other property, see What is unearned income?. To show business expenses send DTA documents such as:

  • Records that show business expenses, such as tax documents
  • If you have rental income:
    • Statement if you spend 20 hours or more per week managing the rental unit(s), and
    • Proof of mortgage (including principal and interest)
    • Bills for taxes, insurance, water, sewer, maintenance, and/or repairs
    • Utility bills if you pay utilities for rental unit(s)

■   No income:

If you have $00.00 income, you should be able to self-declare this on the SNAP application. 106 C.M.R. 363.210 (A). If DTA has a good reason to believe you may be hiding income, they can ask you for additional information to understand how you are managing. 106 C.M.R. 363.210(E) They must document their reasons in the file.

Situations where DTA may question if you have unreported income is if the living expenses you report are higher than your income, and you give no explanation about how you’re meeting your expenses.  Be sure to explain to the DTA worker if you owe back rent, are borrowing money from family or friends, running up a credit card, or other reason. Unless questionable, your statements should be accepted.   

■    Disability

You only need to prove disability if you are under age 60 and you are claiming a work exemption, a special immigrant exemption or to claim higher shelter costs or medical expenses. You usually only need to show DTA proof if you get a disability based benefit other than RSDI, SSI or EAEDC. If you get MassHealth coverage based on a disability DTA should confirm that directly with MassHealth. 106 C.M.R. § 361.210(B)(2). See How do I prove disability so I do not have to wait 5 years?.

■    Assets: There is NO asset test in SNAP for most SNAP households. See When do assets count?.

■    Immigration status:

Proof of status is required if you are not U.S. citizens and are applying for SNAP for yourself. 106 C.M.R. § 361.610(B). See Am I eligible if I am a legal immigrant? for details on proofs required. Proof of immigration status includes:

  • Permanent Resident Card (“green card”)
  • Employment Authorization Document
  • Temporary Resident Card
  • Arrival-Departure Record (I-94)
  • Stamp in Passport
  • Other document showing current or pending immigration status
  • Statement from an immigration attorney about current or pending status

■    Other proofs - when DTA determines that information you gave is “questionable.” 106 C.M.R. § 361.620. See What if DTA questions the proofs I sent them or demands more proof?.

Information you can self-declare:

The SNAP rules allow you to declare certain information, unless DTA determines the information is questionable. See 106 C.M.R. §§ 361.610 (A), (K); 361.800, 363.210(D), 364.450.

You can self-declare:

  • Your household living situation (that you purchase and prepare food separately from others)
  • U.S. citizenship of any household member,
  • Your age or date of birth,
  • Your shelter expenses (rent, homeownership, utility costs),
  • Child care or adult dependent care expenses.

You can declare the information above on your SNAP application, recertification form, an interim report or any separate sworn statement you sign and date.  See Appendix C for a sample form to declare shelter and dependent care costs.

Advocacy Reminders:

  • Proof of U.S. citizenship is not required unless DTA determines that your U.S. citizenship is “questionable.” 106 C.M.R. § 362.210(A). See What if DTA questions the proofs I sent them or demands more proof?.
  • DTA should not ask for permanent verifications (eligibility factors that never change) you already gave them, such as a driver license or birth certificate.
  • Missing wages and last day of work can sometimes be verified by DTA through an employee verification system, including The Work Number or Equifax. DTA should access this data for current wage information if available.  If not, DTA can still help you get information from your employer using a Request for Employment Information form, see Appendix CIf there is a missing wage stub, but your pay stubs show year-to-date gross income, DTA can often figure out the missing week of income from other pay stubs. 
  • DTA can also accept a reasonable explanation from the household regarding any discrepant information. See 11/13/08 FNS guidance

Show Additional Policy Guidance

Produced by Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Last Updated January 2017

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