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Tips to protect your SNAP Food Stamp benefits

Did DTA stop your SNAP benefits even though you sent in papers DTA asked for?

Is DTA asking you for documents you do not have or do not know how to get?

Some things you can do to get your SNAP benefits back are:

Call DTA's Assistance Line (877-382-2363)

How do I get through to a live DTA worker?

You do not need to enter your personal information to get to a worker. Call and do this:

  • Select your language. (Press 1 for English, 2 for Spanish, etc.)
  • Press 1 for "current or former client, or if you have recently applied for benefits"
  • Press 1 for "calling for an interview." You can do this to get a worker, even if you do not need an interview.

Note:

The DTA phone system may ask you to enter 2 pieces of information: your SSN and year of birth. You do not have to give this information to reach a live worker. You need this to hear a recording with basic information about your case.

What if I cannot get through or I have to wait on hold for a long time?

  • Keep trying. Call volume at DTA changes from day to day.
  • Use the "courtesy call back" option if offered. When DTA has high call volume, sometimes the Assistance Line recording will ask if you want a call back. You will need to enter your SSN and a number where DTA can call you back.

What should I ask for if I reach a live DTA worker?

  • Ask the workder "Do you have everything you need to fix my case?" If they have everything, "When will my case be opened and when will I have benefits on my EBT card?"
  • If you sent in documents, tell the worker what you sent and when. Ask the worker to look in the Document History in DTA's computer system to see if they have everything you sent in. For a sample screen shot, see How to tell if DTA has looked at documents you sent in.
  • If they say your case is closed because documents were missing, ask them "What documents are missing and what date did my case close?"
    • If it is less than 30 days since your case closed, you can:
      • Fax the missing documents to 617-887-8765 (DTA's FAX line) or
      • Mail the missing documents to DTA, Document Processing Center, P.O. Box 4406, Taunton, MA 02780 or
      • Drop them off at your local DTA office.
      • Then CALL the DTA Assistance Line 2-3 days after you send your documents. Ask a live worker if your documents have been received and are being processed.
    • If DTA gets your missing documents within 30 days of when your case closed, DTA should open your case. They may not give you all the SNAP benefits you missed if they think the delay was your fault. If that happens, you can appeal this decision. See information below about appealing.
    • If it is more than 30 days since your SNAP or cash case closed, see information below about applying again and appealing.
    • If you do not know what notices DTA sent you, or do not have copies, you can set up a "My account Page" to see your notices. Go to: www.mass.gov/vg/selfservice.

What if DTA says it needs documents I do not have or do not know how to get?

DTA has been sending out letters to SNAP clients asking for information about current and past jobs. DTA gets this information from the Department of Revenue (DOR) computer system.

  • If you have trouble getting a document, call DTA and ask them to help you by calling the third party or person who has the document. You can send this request in writing by filling out a form asking DTA to contact a third party or person for verification.
  • If you are have trouble getting information for DTA about a job, fill out and send to DTA a form called “Request for Employment Information.”  See DTA "Request for Employment Information" form.
  • The SNAP rules say DTA workers must help you get verifications if you need help. DTA should not cut off your SNAP if you ask for help by signing and sending in one of these forms. 

What if DTA says it needs other documents I do not have?

While on the DTA Assistance Line, ask to speak with a DTA Supervisor or Director

  • If your case is closed and the DTA worker does not help you or you are not satisfied with the answer, ask to speak with his or her DTA supervisor.
  • If you do not agree with the Supervisor, you can ask to speak with the Assistant Director or Director of that DTA local office.  Explain that you spoke with a DTA worker or Supervisor already. Go to Masslegalservices.org/DTAcontacts for contact information.

Call the DTA Ombudsman or call other Government Officials for help

  • The DTA Ombudsman may be able to get your case reopened or explain what’s going on. Call 617-348-5354.  Explain what happened in your SNAP case and ask for help fixing it.  Explain that you tried to reach DTA Assistance Line and that didn’t fix the problem.
  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) may be able to help you.  USDA wants people to get the SNAP benefits that they are supposed to get. They want to know if people in Massachusetts are having problems with DTA. You can call the USDA Regional Office in Boston: 617-565-6370.   
  • Most State legislators try to help their constituents when they have problems (You are a constituent if you live in the area that the legislator represents). Tell your legislator’s staff what happened in your SNAP case.  Explain that you tried to contact DTA directly and that didn’t fix the problem. Call 1-800-392-6090 or check online at www.wheredoivotema.com.

Do a new application for SNAP benefits

Appeal the closing or termination of your SNAP benefits

Why should I appeal?

  • You may be able to get SNAP benefits back to the date that your benefits stopped.  Bring missing documents to the hearing or you can show DTA made a mistake in cutting you off.

Should I appeal and do a new application for SNAP benefits?

  • Yes. You should reapply even if you are filing an appeal because the appeal will probably take a long time.

How do I file an appeal?

  • Fill out DTA's "Request for Appeal" form. Fax it to: 617-348-5311. Or mail it to DTA, P.O. Box 4017, Taunton, MA 02780.
  • After getting your appeal, DTA will send you a letter with the date of the hearing. The hearing can be held in person at the local office or by phone. If you want a phone hearing or have questions about if a hearing was scheduled, call the Division of Hearings at 617-348-5321.

Ask a local organization to help you with getting DTA to fix your case

  • You can give your written consent to an organization who can call DTA to find out what is going on.
  • The organization will need a "Permission to Access DTA Client Case Information" or a similar hand written statement. Be sure they fax it to the DTA Document Center, 617-887-8765, before they call DTA.

Forms and samples you can use

A. Sample “Scanned Document History” screen where should look to find documents sent to DTA.

B. DTA "Request for Employment Information" form (This form gives DTA permission to contact employers directly).

C. Sample form asking DTA to contact a third party or person for verification.

D. DTA Request for Appeal (Fair Hearing) form (Appeal can also be written on any piece of paper).

E. Permission to Access DTA Client Case Information (Permission can also be hand written on any piece of paper).

Produced by Greater Boston Legal Services and Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Created April 2016

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SNAP Crisis links

Find out more about the Massachusetts SNAP Crisis

Problems with SNAP?

Call your State Representative or State Senator. Find them at

Call the USDA New England Office

  • 617-565-6370

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