DTA can deny your SNAP application —or cut your benefits off —if you had to meet the work registration rules and you voluntarily quit a job without a good reason. 106 C.M.R. § 362.310(B)
When does the "voluntary quit" rule?
The voluntary quit rule may apply to you if:
- you are subject to the SNAP work registration rules (see Are there work rules for SNAP?)
- you quit a job where you were working 30 or more hours a week,
- you did not have a good reason for quitting or reducing your work hours, and
- you are applying for SNAP within 60 days of quitting, or you are a current SNAP recipient.
The voluntary quit penalties do not apply if you are exempt from the work registration rules or if you had a good reason to quit your job.
What if I voluntarily quit a job before I applied for SNAP?
If you are the head of household and you voluntarily quit a job within the 60 days before you applied for SNAP with no good reason, DTA’s SNAP rules say that your entire household cannot get SNAP benefits for three months from the date you quit the job 106 C.M.R. § 362.340. (Note: This punishment on the entire household is more severe than allowed under the federal SNAP rules. Contact an advocate).
Example: Frank S worked for McDonalds until September 30th when he quit over a personal dispute with a co-worker. He applied for SNAP for his family on October 15th. Because he quit his job within 60 days of his SNAP application, the family is eligible but not until November 1st (60 days after Frank quit). If he can show he had a good cause reason for quitting his job (or if he is exempt from the work registration rules) the family is eligible as of the date he applied - October 15th.
Note regarding verification of termination from a job: In general, DTA should not ask for proof of termination or proof of earnings for jobs that ended before the cyclical month of your application.
DTA should only ask for proof of termination going back further – to 60 days prior to the date of your application – if you are subject to the voluntary quit rules and they think you voluntarily quit a job. See Are there work rules for SNAP?
Example: Frank S worked for McDonalds until September 30th when he quit over a personal dispute with a co-worker. He got his last paycheck on October 5. Frank is a single dad and cares for a 4 year old son. He applied for SNAP on October 15th. Frank is exempt from the work registration rules because he cares for a child under 6 and is not subject to the voluntary quit rules. Because the last digit of his SSN is 4, the start of his cyclical month is the 7th of the month. When he applies on October 15th, DTA should only ask about jobs and income going back to October 7. They should not ask for proof of termination from McDonald’s or for proof of the amount of his last paycheck.
What if I quit a job while I am getting SNAP?
If you voluntarily quit a job without good cause after the date you applied for SNAP benefits, you are ineligible for three months but the rest of your household is still eligible. 106 C.M.R. § 367.800(E)(2) & (F). Penalties increase for a second and third quit. On the third quit, if you are the “head of household,” your whole household is ineligible for six months. 106 C.M.R. § 367.800(E)(2) & (F). Penalties increase for a second and third quit. On the third quit, if you are the “head of household,” your whole household is ineligible for six months.
If you need help getting information from a past employer, you can give DTA permission to make a “collateral contact” with the employer directly. See What if I am having trouble getting all the DTA proofs, or the proofs get to DTA late?, Appendix C. 106 C.M.R. § 361.640(B). Contact MLRI if you are asked to verify that a job ended if the job ended more than 60 days before you applied.
- If you are exempt from the SNAP work registration rules, voluntary quit sanctions do not apply to you. See Are there work rules for SNAP?.
- Current DTA rules about voluntary quit may exceed federal law. If you are denied or terminated from SNAP because of voluntary quit contact Legal Services as soon as possible.
- It is DTA’s obligation to inform you about your rights and responsibilities when you apply for benefits. 106 C.M.R. § 361.550. This includes telling you at application and each recertification which household members are subject to the work requirements, and the penalties for voluntarily quitting a job after you apply for benefits and/or refusing to comply with the work requirements.