Getting more SNAP benefits than you are eligible for is an "overissuance." 106 C.M.R. § 367.490.
An overissuance can happen because of a DTA mistake or overpayment, or a mistake on your part. These mistakes are considered unintentional program violations (UPVs). 106 C.M.R. § 367.495. A UPV overissuance can also happen because you got SNAP while waiting for a hearing, which you then lost.
An overissuance can also happen because of something you did on purpose. This is called an intentional program violation (IPV) or SNAP "fraud." An IPV is purposely giving false or misleading information, hiding information to get benefits you are not eligible to receive, or intentionally failing to report a change that would reduce your benefits. See What must DTA do to establish an intentional program violation or SNAP fraud? Other IPVs include altering your Bay State Access card to get more benefits, using your card to buy alcohol, tobacco, or other non-food items, using someone else's Bay State Access card for yourself, or selling the use of your Bay State Access card to someone else. 106 C.M.R. § 367.525. These acts are also considered fraud. DTA has the authority to recover incorrectly issued SNAP as a result of an IPV and can impose penalties or sanctions on the household.
It is important to remember that DTA receives information, through data matches, about SNAP recipients from a number of sources, including the Department of Revenue regarding income or a new job, the Internal Revenue Service about unreported unearned interest income, the Department of Social Services and Department of Youth Services regarding a child in custody, the Veterans Administration regarding receipt of federal veterans benefits, the Department of Corrections regarding incarcerated persons, etc. As a condition of receiving benefits, you are required to give DTA permission to check information about you.
However, sometimes the information from these data matches is not up-to-date, accurate, or you appropriately reported the change when it happened (for example, you reported to DTA you got a job) but your DTA worker did not record it in BEACON properly. Be sure to find out the source of information when DTA claims you are no longer eligible or have been overpaid. Also remember to always report changes timely.
Produced by Patricia Baker, Laura Gallant, Deborah Harris, Rochelle Hahn and Victoria Negus, Massachusetts Law Reform Institute Last updated January 2013