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How do I apply for SNAP?

Produced by Massachusetts Law Reform Institute and Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education, Inc.
Reviewed May 2018

Can I apply for SNAP?

You have the right to apply for SNAP. You should apply for SNAP even if a caseworker tells you that you cannot get them.  Caseworkers are sometimes wrong. 

In fact, the law says that the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) must "encourage households to apply the same day the household contacts the local office in person or by phone." DTA workers cannot send you away or screen you out.

If you ask for an application at the local DTA office, DTA must give it to you or mail it right away. They must let you file it the same day you first ask to apply.

Where can I apply for SNAP?

If I apply for cash benefits, do I need to apply separately for SNAP?

No. You automatically apply for SNAP when you:

  • apply for welfare cash assistance (TAFDC),
  • apply for Emergency Assistance for Elderly, Disabled and Children (EAEDC).

If you apply for TAFDC or EAEDC, you do not have to file a separate SNAP application or have a separate interview. Also, DTA must process your SNAP if they have the proofs they need, even if it turns out that you cannot get TAFDC or EAEDC.

I get SSI or I am applying for SSI. Can I apply for SNAP at the Social Security office? 

You can apply for SNAP at the Social Security (SSA) office when you apply for SSI benefits or if your SSI benefits are being redetermined (reviewed).

SSA is supposed to take a SNAP application for you if you and everyone else in your household are applying for or get SSI. If you buy and cook food with other people in your household and they do not get SSI, you need to apply for food stamps at your local DTA office.  

The SSI worker must send your completed SNAP application and any proofs you give them to the DTA office.

 If you need emergency SNAP, you may get benefits faster if you go to the local DTA office.

When should I turn in my application?

If you apply by mail, mail in your application form right away! If you go in person to DTA, you can sign an application the very day you walk in.  If you apply online, before 5 PM, your application is filed the same day.

You will get SNAP back to the date you turn in the signed application form. Even if you cannot fill in all of the blanks, at least:

  • put down your name,
  • put down your address,
  • put down your phone number (if you have one),
  • sign and date the form,
  • turn it in.

You can give the rest of the information later. The DTA office cannot make you come back another day to file your application.

How soon will I get my benefits?

DTA has to decide on your application and make sure you get your SNAP benefits or a notice of denial within 30 days of the day you apply.

If they approve your application, you should get a DTA approval notice and your benefits by Day 30.

Can DTA help me to register to vote?

When you apply for SNAP or other DTA benefits, your DTA worker must also:

  • tell you about your option to register to vote,
  • help you fill out a voter registration form, and
  • send the form to the local city or town registrar.

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