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If I forget to use my EBT card, does my case close or will I lose benefits?

Produced by Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Reviewed March 2023

You do not need to use your SNAP benefits every month to qualify. Your SNAP benefits do not expire at the end of each month. If your SNAP case is closed for some reason, you still have the right to use any remaining benefits in your EBT account before the case closed.

DTA may contact you if your SNAP balance seems too high or you have not used your EBT card for a long time. DTA does track SNAP cases where the EBT benefits have not been used for a number of months. Some households, especially those who get the $23 minimum benefit, often save up SNAP for a big shop. That’s okay! Sometimes the SNAP EBT balances are high if DTA made an error and issued you a retroactive payment or you won an appeal. You are not required to spend retroactive payments right away!

However, DTA will remove EBT benefits (“expunge”) from your account if you have not used your benefits at all for 274 consecutive days. 106 C.M.R. § 364.900(E)(.  DTA must send you a letter 30 days before they take any action to remove benefits. Once expunged, you cannot get those benefits back.

Getting help to use your EBT card

If the reason you have not used your EBT card is because you lost your EBT card or forgot your PIN, you can get a new card or PIN. See What if my EBT card or benefits are lost or stolen? A high EBT balance or idle EBT account is not a sign of fraud!

If you have problems with accessing your SNAP benefits—for example, if the store’s machine tells you the wrong amount of benefits available—call EBT Customer Service at 1-800-997-2555. Contact an advocate if your problems are not fixed.

If you need a ride to the grocery store, your local Councils on Aging may be able to arrange a ride.

If you need someone to help food shop for you, you can appoint a trusted neighbor, family member or friend to become an "authorized representative" to get a second EBT card. See What is an Authorized Representative?

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

Show DTA Policy Guidance

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