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What is Bay State CAP for SSI recipients?

Produced by Patricia Baker and Victoria Negus
Reviewed January 2018

Massachusetts has a special SNAP program where many SSI applicants and recipients can apply for SNAP through their Social Security Administration (SSA) office. This is called Bay State CAP or the state’s “combined application project.” 106 C.M.R. §366.910

If you meet the criteria for Bay State Cap, you do not need to file a SNAP application at DTA, have an interview or give DTA any verifications. And your SNAP benefits are certified for 36 months. DTA uses your SSI eligibility information to establish your benefits and send you an EBT card. If you move, start to work or have other changes, you report those changes direct to SSA. SSA will automatically tell DTA about the changes. 106 C.M.R. §366.910 (B)(3)-(5).

You man qualify Bay State CAP if:

  1. you are an SSI recipient and SSA is reviewing your SSI case, or you are an SSI applicant and SSA is likely to approve or reopen your SSI case within 30 days of your application,
  2. you are 18 or older and unmarried (or not living with a spouse),
  3. you live alone, or live with others but purchase and prepare your own food separate from the others,
  4. you do not have regular earned income, and
  5. the SSI benefits you receive are federally-funded (if you get only a small SSI supplement on top of Social Security or other unearned income, you are likely getting state-funded SSI supplement and would not be Bay State CAP eligible).

When you are apply for SSI or have your SSI redetermined, the SSA Claims Representative should ask you the following questions:

  • Do you wish to participate in SNAP?
  • Do you purchase and prepare meals separately from others?
  • Are your housing expenses equal to or greater than $453/month?

If you answer YES to the first two questions, and answer the shelter question, SSA should electronically send DTA your eligibility information  (through the State Data Exchange).  DTA should also send you a Bay State CAP/SNAP approval letter and separately an EBT card and PIN.

When it is time to recertify your benefits, DTA should send you a simple Bay State CAP recertification form to fill out and send back. 

Advocacy Reminders:

  • Bay State CAP recipients often receive the same benefit amount as regular SNAP benefits or even higher. In some cases you may get more through regular SNAP if you have rent or home ownership costs above $453/month or unreimbursed medical expenses. You have a right to switch from Bay State CAP to regular SNAP any time you would get higher SNAP benefits. 106 C.M.R. §366.910 (H)(2).
  • If SSA says your SSI application will take more than 30 days to process (unless you are elderly or presumptively disabled), it may be faster to apply for regular SNAP benefits through DTA.
  • SSA usually suspends SSI if you are “institutionalized” for 30 days or more – such as being admitted to a hospital, rehab facility, prison or other institution for 30 or more days. When you return to the community and notify SSA you have returned, SSA will usually reopen your SSI case. However, SSA may not ask you questions about Bay State CAP even though they should.  If your SNAP benefits are not reopened right away, contact DTA. 

DTA Policy Guidance:

DTA Online Guide: SNAP > Bay State CAP Policy and Procedures

SSA Policy Guidance on SNAP Applications: The Social Security Administration provides detailed instructions to SSA Claims Representatives on their obligation to offer to take SNAP applications for SSI recipients including MA Bay State CAP protocol. SSI Policy Operations Manual, SI BOS01801.302.

Additional Guidance:
  • DTA’s specialized Bay State CAP unit to handle Bay State CAP case maintenance and reinstatements. OLG Transmittal #2015-51 (Oct 2, 2015)
  • DTA should not close Bay State CAP case if SSI case is closed for less than 30 days (e.g. short term institutionalization).  Field Ops Memo 2007-23.
  • Initial 2005 roll-out of Bay State CAP pilot in Massachusetts including DTA worker instructions, client brochures and notices, the one-page application form for regular SNAP application and DTA outreach to SSI recipients. Field Ops Memos # 2005-4, 2005-18, 2005-50, and 2005-53.

Show DTA Policy Guidance

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