When am I eligible for expedited (emergency) benefits?

We are in the process of updating the SNAP Advocacy Guide, so some of the information is no longer current.  In the meantime, you can read or download a pdf of the 2022 guide from www.masslegalservices.org/FoodStampSNAPAdvocacyGuide

Produced by Patricia Baker and Victoria Negus, Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Reviewed January 2020

Expedited SNAP benefits 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 to your rent or homeownership costs), or
■ you are a migrant household with $100 or less in cash and savings.
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.
Expedited SNAP rules: 106 C.M.R.§§365.800-365.850.


Stella is 65 and 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 $1,146 based on her rent of $500 plus the $646 heating/cooling standard utility allowance. Because her shelter costs are higher than her gross income, Stella is eligible for expedited SNAP.

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).
You only need to verify your identity to qualify for expedited SNAP. You can provide proof of your identity when you apply. DTA will also verify your identity by confirming your SSN. See Appendix C.
The amount you get in expedited SNAP benefits is based on the income you received and the income you anticipate receiving in the “cyclical month” of your SNAP application. 106 C.M.R.§365.840. This means DTA will count the earnings from any pay you got in that cyclical month, even if that job has ended.


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. If you need an EBT card, it is also faster to get an EBT card in person.
  • You can only get expedited SNAP once every 12 months, unless you completed the full SNAP application the last time you applied.
  • If you got expedited SNAP benefits, but your SNAP benefits did not continue, call DTA. It is possible you still need to send missing proofs. If you sent in the required proofs but DTA failed to approve ongoing SNAP or send you a denial letter, you can call DTA to speak with a supervisor, call the DTA Ombuds or file an appeal. DTA may not send you a denial notice, but you can still file an appeal if you did not get approved for ongoing SNAP.

DTA Online Guide: SNAP > Application Processing > SNAP Application Processing > Expedited Benefits

Additional DTA Guidance: 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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