Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Emergency Notice

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

Produced by Patricia Baker and Victoria Negus
Reviewed January 2020

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 $16 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 for 365 consecutive days. 106 C.M.R. §364.900(E). DTA must send you a letter 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 How do I apply if I live in a group home, substance abuse center, or teen program?5. A high EBT balance or idle EBT account is not a sign of fraud!

Advocacy Reminders

  • 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:Cross Programs > EBT > Unaccessed EBT Benefits

Show DTA Policy Guidance

Find Legal Aid

You may be able to get free legal help from your local legal aid program. Or email a question about your own legal problem to a lawyer.

Ask a Law Librarian

If it's
9am and 4pm