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Power Outage/Food Loss: Replacement SNAP benefits

SNAP rules provide for replacement of food lost by SNAP recipients due to “household misfortune.” You can get funds to replace the food you purchased with your SNAP benefits. A federal or state disaster declaration is not required.

Household misfortune includes losing food from your home if:

  • a local or neighborhood power outage lasts 4 hours or more,
  • your utilities are shut off (for any reason),
  • your freezer or refrigerator stops working, or
  • a fire, flood, or storm causes damage.

Household misfortune can also include lost food due to loss of power to many homes in your city or county caused by severe weather or a widespread power failure.

How do I apply for replacement SNAP?

Within 10 days of the incident or end of the outage, contact your DTA case manager to report the loss of food. You can do this in person, by phone, fax, or mail.

Within 10 days of reporting the loss, you also need to give DTA a signed “Statement of Loss” describing what happened and the dollar value of the food you lost. This can also serve as your initial report. Bottom line: the sooner you get DTA this form, the faster the SNAP replacement benefits.

See Replacement SNAP Benefits and Statement of Loss to fill out the "Statement of Loss" form, and for more information on replacement benefits.

What happens next?

DTA will verify the power outage or fire through news media sources, fire department reports or the Red Cross. If you have suffered a utility shut off or appliance failure, DTA may ask you for proofs. You do not need to show them the spoiled food! If you are eligible, DTA can replace the value of the food lost up to one month’s SNAP benefit, depending on how much food you lost.

Other ways SNAP can help persons recover in emergencies:

  • If a wide spread natural disaster affects many people in your community, the federal government allows households not already receiving SNAP to get Disaster SNAP (DSNAP). This is an emergency food SNAP replacement benefit with higher income eligibility rules.
  • If you are have little or no income or cash in the bank and are not already receiving SNAP, you may be eligible to get expedited (fast) SNAP benefits. Expedited SNAP benefits are provided within 7 days. Otherwise, it can take up to 30 days to qualify.

Produced by Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Created October 2012

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