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Bay State Cap - Questions and Answers

Produced by Massachusetts Law Reform Institute with assistance from Merrimack Valley Legal Services
Reviewed April 2021

A SNAP program for people getting or applying for Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

What is Bay State Cap?

Bay State CAP is an easy and fast way for seniors and people with disabilities to get SNAP through the local Social Security office.

If you are applying for SSI or your SSI benefits are being reviewed, you may be able to get Bay State CAP SNAP. You do not need to fill out a long application, be interviewed or go to any meetings at the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA). You do not need to send in any proofs. The monthly benefit is based on the information you give to the Social Security office. The Social Security office is supposed to ask you about Bay State CAP when you first apply or when your SSI case is being reviewed (redetermined).

Who can get Bay State CAP?

To get Bay State CAP:

  • You must be getting SSI cash assistance.
  • You must buy and cook more than half of your weekly meals separate from other people. This means you either must live alone or you live with others but buy and make most of your food separately. You cannot get Bay State CAP if you live with your husband, wife, or child under age 22.
  • You cannot have regular earned income.

If you cannot get Bay State CAP, you can still apply for regular SNAP. You can apply for regular SNAP at the Social Security office-- they are supposed to take an application for you and fax it to your local DTA office. You can also apply at your local DTA office.

What are the differences between Bay State Cap SNAP and regular SNAP?

There are several differences. Bay State Cap SNAP are better than regular SNAP in some ways and worse than regular SNAP in other ways. You have the right to choose which kind of SNAP you get!

The ways that Bay State CAP Food Stamps are better than regular Food Stamps are:

  • It is easier to apply for them.
  • You do not have to go to any Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) office. You only need to deal with the Social Security office.
  • Your benefits will be approved for three years at a time. This means you will only need to reapply once every three years. For regular Food Stamps, you will have to apply at least every two years. 

The way that Bay State Cap benefits are worse than regular Food Stamps benefits is:

  • You might get lower benefits with Bay State CAP than you would with regular Food Stamps. With regular Food Stamps, you might be able to get as much as $234/month. Whether or not you will get more benefits from regular Food Stamps depends on how much you pay for housing, utilities, and out-of-pocket medical costs.
  • It may take longer to start getting Bay State Cap Food Stamps. It is sometimes quicker to get regular Food Stamps by applying at your local DTA office

A legal services, elder services or anti-hunger advocate can help you figure out which program is better.

Remember that you have the right to choose between Bay State CAP and regular food stamps!

How do I apply for Bay State CAP Food Stamps?

If you already get SSI or you are applying for SSI, ask your SSI worker about Bay State CAP.

If your worker tells you that you cannot get Bay State CAP, or if you are not scheduled for an SSI case review, ask about applying for regular Food Stamps. The Social Security office takes regular Food Stamp applications too. But if you are applying for SSI and Social Security says it will take some time to approve your application, you may be better off applying for regular Food Stamps at your local DTA office or a helping organization.

How much Bay State CAP Food Stamps will I get?

It depends on how much you get in SSI and how much you pay for housing and utilities. You might receive more benefits if you get regular food stamps, but you have to provide more proofs of your expenses and have your case reviewed more frequently.

If you get SSI plus SSDI, you may get a little bit less Bay State CAP Food Stamps.


You might get more Food Stamps by applying for regular Food Stamps at your local DTA office.

How can I get help with Food Stamp problems, or with deciding which Food Stamps are right for me?

If you have any questions about Bay State CAP or the regular Food Stamp program, you can call DTA's Food Stamp Program Hotline at 1-866-950-FOOD or call Project Bread’s Food Source Hotline at 1-800-645-8333. You can also call your local Legal Services office for legal advice and possible representation if needed.

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