Does DTA have to interview me and what happens if I miss the interview?

DTA is required to interview all applicants for SNAP benefits, 106 C.M.R. § 361.500 (except for SSI Bay State CAP households). This must be done by a DTA SNAP worker, and not a community organization. The SNAP interview is usually conducted by phone.   

Scheduling the interview

DTA should try to contact as soon as they get the SNAP application to screen you for emergency (expedited) benefits. See Can I Get Emergency SNAP Benefits?.

If DTA does not reach you, DTA should send a written notice with a date and time a DTA worker will call. The notice will also list the phone number they will be calling. If this phone number is not correct, call DTA immediately (sometimes the computer will call old numbers in their files). 

DTA recently changed how they make interview calls in October 2016. First, a few days before your interview, DTA’s “auto-dial” system should call you at the number you listed your application to remind you about the upcoming appointment.  Second, on the day of your interview, the DTA computer system will automatically call you at the time of the scheduled interview. The “caller ID” should say “COMM of MASS”.  When you get the call, you will likely hear a recording that tells you to “press 1” to talk with a case manager.  You may then wait a few minutes for a worker. 

DTA should leave a voicemail if you do not pick up the call. DTA should then call back a couple of minutes later.  If you miss the phone call, call the DTA Assistance Line: 1-877-382-2363.

Can I be scheduled for an in-office interview?

If you do not have a phone, DTA will schedule an in-person interview at the local office. But you can always call the DTA Assistance Line any time and ask for a phone interview, using the phone of a local agency or friend.

If you do have an interview in a local DTA, the DTA worker must conduct the interview in a private setting and not in the waiting room where others can hear you. Your personal information must be kept private and not shared unless you give written permission. 106 C.M.R. §§ 361.550, 360.300.

If you are scheduled for an in-office interview solely because DTA says you need a photo EBT card, that is incorrect. See What are Photo EBT Cards?.

If you are applying for DTA cash assistance benefits, you will need to go to the DTA office for an in-person interview. If you are disabled and need a home visit, DTA also has the authority to make an accommodation to send someone to your home. See What if a Disability Makes it Hard for Me to Apply, Get Proofs, or Compy with SNAP Rules? and How do I ask DTA for an accommodation?.

What happens during the interview?

The role of the DTA worker during the interview is to:

  • Screen you for expedited (emergency) benefits that can be issued within 7 days if you are eligible. See Can I Get Emergency SNAP Benefits?.
  • Confirm the information you gave on your application and   information DTA gets through government data bases.
  • Review the documents you sent in and tell you what proofs or verifications they still need and by when.
  • Review the SNAP time limit and work requirements if you or a family member is aged 18-49, childless and subject to the time limit/ work requirements. See What is the ABAWD Time Limit? and Who is Exempt from the ABAWD Time Limit?.
  • Tell you how long your benefits are certified for and when you need to send in an Interim Report or report changes to DTA.
  • Answer any questions you have and offer to help if you need help getting verifications or contacting a third party for information.
  • Explain your rights and responsibilities, as well as the penalties for committing fraud or for other program rules.

What happens after the interview?

You should receive a DTA letter with a Verification Checklist (also called a VC-1) if there are proofs DTA needs. See Can Someone Else Apply for Me?. DTA should approve your case by Day 30 if you are eligible.

Advocacy Reminders:

  • You can call DTA any time after submitting your SNAP application for an interview. Wait at least 2 business days so DTA uploads it.
  • Before or during the interview, a DTA worker should review the documents you sent in with your application. If a DTA worker claims they cannot find the documents you sent or asks you to send in documents you sent before, see How Can the DTA Ombuds Office Help?.

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Produced by Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Last Updated January 2017

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