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What if I lose food due to a power outage, fire or a disaster?

Produced by Patricia Baker and Victoria Negus
Reviewed January 2018

Disaster SNAP Benefits:

When the President of the United States or the Food and Nutrition Service declares a major disaster, families and individuals who live in the disaster area may be eligible for SNAP benefits as long as they meet special (higher) income limits. See Appendix B, Chart 5 . 106 C.M.R. §§ 366.600-366.620. These emergency SNAP benefits are called Disaster SNAP, or D-SNAP. The special benefits are provided to families who are not SNAP recipients at the time.

To receive D-SNAP, the only proof required is proof of your identity (who you are). Other proofs may be requested, but are not mandatory. You do not need to be eligible for or receiving SNAP already to qualify.

If you are already getting benefits and you lose food due to a federally declared disaster, you may also be eligible to receive additional SNAP benefits. Normally the federal government will provide second SNAP payment of benefits because of the disaster. 106 C.M.R. § 366.620.

Replacement SNAP Benefits:

If you are a SNAP household, you may also qualify to get SNAP to replace food lost due to a fire, flood or power outage in your home or neighborhood.  This is food a) you bought with your SNAP benefits and b)  was destroyed or became unsafe to eat because of lack of refrigeration or water damage. DTA can issue replacement SNAP benefits up to the amount of one month’s SNAP benefits106 C.M.R. § 364.900(C).

The rules also allow DTA to give you replacement SNAP if you lost electrical power (generally for four hours or more) and the food in your refrigerator or freezer has spoiled.

You must report the misfortune to DTA within 10 days of when you lost the food. In the next 10 days, you need to sign a sworn statement about the destruction of the food purchased. See DTA “Request for Replacement SNAP Benefits Due to Household Disaster or Misfortune” form in Appendix C.. See also MLRI FAQ on SNAP and household misfortune.

DTA will make a collateral contact to verify the power loss, appliance malfunction or misfortune that caused the loss of food. DTA may contact the Red Cross, fire department, power company, landlord or do a home visit. If you have documentation of the power outage or other problem that triggered the food loss, send it to DTA with your statement. Note: You do not need to bring your spoiled food to DTA as evidence of your loss.

The Food Research Action Center (FRAC) publishes An Advocate’s Guide to the Disaster Food Stamp Program.

See also USDA Disaster SNAP guidance for states.

DTA Policy Guidance:

Online Guide Sections:  SNAP > Household Misfortune > Household Misfortune Procedures

Show DTA Policy Guidance

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