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When am I eligible for expedited (emergency) benefits?

Produced by Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Reviewed March 2023

Expedited SNAP benefits are a faster way to get your first month of SNAP benefits within 7 days of when you apply if you qualify.

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.

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 SNAP when DTA gets your application. 106 C.M.R.§365.800.(link 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 with SSA. See Appendix C.

The amount you get in expedited SNAP benefits is based on the date you apply and the “cyclical month” of your SNAP application.106 C.M.R.§365.840. For example, you may get more than 1 month, worth of initial benefits depending on when you apply.

If you received expedited SNAP, but did not send DTA all required proofs, DTA will send you a denial notice explaining what documents DTA was missing. If you get these in, DTA can reopen your SNAP case.  

Note: You can only get expedited SNAP once every 12 months, unless you completed the full SNAP application the last time you applied. (see DTA Transitions FYI, December 2010, pg 8)


DTA Online Guide: See Appendix G for links to the DTA's BEACON 5 Online Guide for this section.


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