What if DTA does not give me SNAP back to the date I applied (“pro-rating”)?

Produced by Patricia Baker and Victoria Negus
Created January 2018

If DTA denies your SNAP benefits for missing proofs, but you sent DTA the missing proofs within 30 days of the denial, DTA should reopen your SNAP application. You do not need to reapply. 

However, your SNAP case will be approved back to the date DTA received required proofs.  If DTA starts your SNAP benefits at a later date instead of the date you first applied – this is called “pro-rating.”  

But, your SNAP benefits should not be “pro-rated” for the first month if the reason for the delay was not your fault. The SNAP regulations, 106 C.M.R. 361.910 and 920 state that DTA can pro-rate the benefits only if it they determine the delay in providing proofs was the fault of the household.  

In many cases, DTA’s eligibility computer system (BEACON) appears to be programmed to automatically assume a delay was the fault of the applicant. BEACON then approves the SNAP start date later than the date of the SNAP application.  But this may not be correct! 

A delay in sending DTA proofs is not your fault if: 

  • DTA did not tell you which proofs they needed or all the alternate proofs they can accept, 
  • DTA did not give you enough time to get in proofs, or 
  • DTA did not offer help if you had trouble getting the proofs. 

The letter you get from DTA approving your SNAP may state that your first month of SNAP will be different from your regular amount, but will not tell you by how much. If your SNAP was pro-rated and you believe the delay was not your fault, you can call the DTA Assistance Line, the DTA Ombudsman’s Office or file an appeal See How can the DTA Ombuds Office help? and Appeal Rights.

Example: Louise applied for SNAP on June 1st but had trouble proving her earnings. She has direct deposit of her net wages, but her boss refused to give her a statement her gross earnings. She got a “pending denial” notice on June 30th. Louise was finally able to send DTA the missing pay information on July 10th. DTA approved her case, but only gave her SNAP starting July 10th.  This means she missed 40 days’ worth of SNAP. You learn Louise actually had asked the DTA worker for help getting the missing wage information because her employer was uncooperative. DTA made a note in the case record, but did not offer to contact the employer. Because DTA failed to offer to help her back in June, DTA incorrectly prorated the SNAP benefits. Louise is entitled to SNAP retroactive to June 30th when she first applied. 

Advocacy Reminders:

  • If you submit verifications to DTA within 30 days after you got a pending denial notice, call the DTA Assistance Line and ask them to check your case record in your documents were not processed.
  • If you were denied or terminated from SNAP within the last 90 days, you still have a right to appeal that denial or termination. The hearing officer should accept any proofs you provide at the hearing under special “de novo” appeal rules for applications. See How should I present my case at a hearing?. You should also reapply for benefits (to get back on quickly) even if you file an appeal for retroactive (back) benefits.
  • Federal SNAP require DTA to inform SNAP households of the missing verification, offer to assist in obtaining that verification, and allow the household extra time to get the missing paperwork. 7 C.F.R. §273.2(h)(1)(i)(C). If DTA has not done all of those things, the SNAP regulations say the delay is the DTA’s fault.

DTA Policy Guidance:

DTA Online Guide:  

Additional Guidance
  • Describes detailed DTA procedures for determining client “fault” versus DTA “fault.” Ops Memo 2014-30 (June 11, 2014). (Policy may violate federal SNAP regulations, which require state agencies to have taken multiple steps before assigning fault to SNAP applicant.)

Show DTA Policy Guidance

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