YES. DTA is required to interview all applicants for SNAP benefits, 106 C.M.R. § 361.500 (except for SSI Bay State CAP households). The interview must be done by a DTA SNAP worker, and not a community organization. The SNAP interview is usually done by phone. If you apply in person at a local DTA office, you can have your interview in person if you choose to wait to meet with a DTA worker.
When do I have my interview?
DTA should try to call you as soon as they get the SNAP application to screen you for emergency (expedited) benefits. See Can I Get Emergency SNAP Benefits?.
If DTA does not reach you, DTA should send a written notice with a date and time a DTA worker will call. The notice will also list the phone number they have on file to reach you. If this phone number is not correct, call DTA immediately or use DTA Connect to correct it. See How do I learn about my case online or with my smartphone?
The day before your interview, DTA’s “auto-dial” system should call you at the number you listed your application to remind you about the upcoming interview. On the day of your interview, the DTA automated phone system will automatically call you at the scheduled time. The phone “caller ID” should say “COMM of MASS.” When pick up the call, you will hear instructions telling you to “press 1” in order to talk with a case manager. You may need to wait for a few minutes for a worker to come on the line.
If you do not pick up when DTA calls, DTA should leave a voicemail. DTA should then call back a couple of minutes later. If you miss the phone call, you can call the DTA Assistance Line: 1-877-382-2363.
Can I be scheduled for an in-office interview?
If you do not have a phone number listed on your application, DTA will schedule an in-person interview at the local office. You can always call the DTA Assistance Line any time and ask for a phone interview instead. For example, you can call from the phone of a local agency or friend.
If you do have an interview at the local DTA office, the DTA worker must conduct the interview in a private setting and not in the waiting room where others can hear you. Your personal information must be kept private and not shared unless you give written permission. 106 C.M.R. §§ 361.550, 360.300. If you feel the space you are in is not private (for example, a cubicle where you can hear other clients), you ask the DTA worker to have the interview moved to a private room.
If you are scheduled for an in-office interview solely because DTA says you need a photo EBT card, that is incorrect. See What are Photo EBT Cards?.
If you are applying for DTA cash assistance benefits, you will need to go to the DTA office for an in-person interview. If you are disabled and need a home visit, DTA also has the authority to make an accommodation to send someone to your home. See What if a Disability Makes it Hard for Me to Apply, Get Proofs, or Compy with SNAP Rules? and How do I ask DTA for an accommodation?.
What happens during the interview?
The role of the DTA worker during the interview is to:
- Screen you for expedited (emergency) benefits that can be issued within 7 days if you are eligible. See Can I Get Emergency SNAP Benefits?.
- Confirm the information you gave on your application and any information DTA gets through government data bases.
- Review the documents you sent in and tell you what proofs or verifications DTA needs and when they are due.
- Issue you an EBT card – either by mail or in person if you are at the local DTA office – and tell you how to use the EBT card (if you have an EBT card from when you were on before and it still works, you do not need a new card).
- Review the SNAP time limit and work requirements if you or a family member is subject to the ABAWD 3 month time limit and work requirements. See What is the ABAWD Time Limit? and Who is Exempt from the ABAWD Time Limit?.
- Tell you how long your benefits are certified for and when you need to send in an Interim Report or report changes to DTA.
- Answer any questions you have and offer to help if you need help getting verifications or contacting a third party for information.
- Explain your rights and responsibilities, as well as the penalties for committing fraud or for other program rules.
What happens after the interview?
You should receive a DTA letter with a Verification Checklist (also called a VC-1) if there are proofs DTA needs. See Can Someone Else Apply for Me?. DTA should approve your case by 30 days from the date of your application if you are eligible.
- You can call DTA any time after submitting your SNAP application for an interview. If you apply by mail or fax, wait a couple of days to make sure they have gotten your application.
- Before or during the interview, a DTA worker should review the documents you sent in with your application. If a DTA worker claims they cannot find the documents you sent or asks you to send in documents you sent before, see How Can the DTA Ombuds Office Help?.
DTA Policy Guidance:
- General Application Interview: SNAP > Application Processing > SNAP Application Processing > The Application Interview
- Business Process (BP) > Procedures (BP) > Processing Procedures >
- SNAP > Application Processing > SNAP Application Processing > Expedited Benefits
- Workers must contact SNAP applicant within two business days to schedule an interview. F.O. Memo 2011-38 (Aug. 3, 2011)