When am I eligible for expedited or emergency benefits?

Produced by Patricia Baker, Victoria Negus, Laura Gallant, Deborah Harris and Rochelle Hahn, Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Reviewed January 2018

Expedited SNAP benefits are not extra benefits—they are a faster way to get your first month of SNAP benefits. You may be  eligible for expedited SNAP if:

■    you have $150 or less in monthly gross income and $100 or less in liquid assets (cash and money in the bank), or

■    your shelter costs are higher than your combined gross monthly income and cash and savings (DTA adds the value of the standard utility allowance or SUA to your rent or home ownership costs), or

■    you are a migrant household with $100 or less in cash and savings.

See 106 C.M.R. §§ 365.810-365.830.

Example: Stella is age 65 earns $200 a week in gross wages (before taxes) at her part time job, for a total monthly income of $866 (weekly x 4.333). Stella pays $500/month rent and separately pays heating costs. Her total shelter costs are $1,109 based on her rent of $400 plus the $636 heating/cooling standard utility deduction (SUA). Because her gross income is less than her shelter costs, Stella is eligible for expedited SNAP for one month. 

You only need to verify your identity to qualify for expedited SNAP. DTA should verify your identity by confirming your Social Security Number. See What proofs do I need?. If you qualify, you should get SNAP benefits and an EBT card with benefits on it within 7 days from the date of your application. 

The SNAP rules require DTA to screen all applicants for expedited service upon receiving the application. 106 C.M.R.§ 365.800.  To get ongoing SNAP benefits after the expedited month, you will have to provide proofs of all the other eligibility factors. 106 C.M.R. § 365.850(B)

The amount you get in expedited SNAP benefits is based on the income you have already received and the income you anticipate receiving in the “cyclical month” of your SNAP application. DTA will count the earnings from your last pay check in that cyclical month, even if that job has ended. 106 C.M.R. § 365.840.

Advocacy Reminder:

  • It is often faster to get expedited SNAP by going in person to a local DTA office, especially if it is hard to reach you by phone.
  • You cannot get expedited SNAP month after month. You can only get expedited SNAP once every 12 months,  unless the last time you got expedited you finished the SNAP application process, verified everything DTA requested and were approved for SNAP. 
  • If you got expedited SNAP and are still missing proofs at the end of 30 days, but you did not get a SNAP denial letter, call DTA.  Sometimes DTA only sends an expedited approval letter for the one-month. 

DTA Policy Guidance:

DTA Online Guide:

Additional Guidance
  • Case managers can process expedited and ongoing SNAP at the same time if all necessary verifications provided. OLG Transmittal 2016-4 (Jan. 4, 2016).
  • Expedited benefits can be issued more than once if the applicant previously verified required information, or if more than 12 months has elapsed since receipt of expedited. Transitions FYI (Dec 2010).

Show DTA Policy Guidance

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