What if DTA makes a mistake and owes me money?

Produced by Patricia Baker and Victoria Negus
Reviewed January 2018

If DTA gives you less SNAP benefits than you are supposed to get, the mistake is called an underpayment or “under-issuance.” For example, you might get underpaid because DTA fails to act on information you gave them, such as:

  • report a drop in your income, the addition of a new member to your household, or higher shelter costs that reduce your countable income, or
  • you are entitled to higher deductions because you report a disability or turn age 60, or
  • the Social Security Administration took your application and made an error in the information it gave DTA.

Also, if you report a change that reduces your net income to $0, DTA should issue you a supplement for that month in addition to increasing your SNAP moving forward. 106 CMR 366.12(A)

DTA must correct any under-issuance that happened during the 12 months before DTA first discovered or was told about the mistake. 106 C.M.R. § 366.520.  You can get back SNAP benefits even if you are not on benefits anymore. 106 C.M.R. §§ 366.500, 366.570.  For example, if you or an advocate discover a mistake after your benefits have ended, you can still ask DTA for the underpaid benefits.

Example:  Martha Jones reported her change of address in July including paying higher rent.  DTA never acted on the information. Martha’s case closed in December but she would have received $75 more per month in SNAP benefits from August through December. DTA owes her $375 in retroactive SNAP

If you are owed back SNAP benefits, take the following steps:

  • Send a letter to DTA requesting an underpayment correction. Keep a copy of this letter.
  • Call the DTA Assistance Line at 877- 382- 2363 and ask a DTA worker about your request for an underpayment.
  • If DTA denies your request for an underpayment, they must send you a written notice. The SNAP regulations require DTA to tell the household the amount of the underpayment they will be giving you, how they calculated the amount (including any amounts DTA keeps to offset benefits you may owe), and your right to appeal. 106 C.M.R. § 366.530. DTA notices issuing an underpayment are called a “Related Benefit Notice” and do not include this level of information. You should call the DTA Assistance Line to ask for this information. 

You have a right to appeal any denial of a correction of an underpayment as well as appeal the amount DTA offers to pay you. You need to do this within 90 days of the date of notice from DTA. 106 C.M.R. § 366.530.  See Appeal Rights. The DTA notice telling you about SNAP paid as a result of an underpayment may look like the one below. You can appeal this notice!

If you have problems with this process contact Legal Services. 

DTA Policy Guidance:

Online Guide Sections:  SNAP > Case Maintenance > Related Benefit  

Additional Guidance:  
  • Overpayments can be offset by established underpayments (e.g. where DTA owes SNAP benefits to a SNAP household which has been overpaid). F.O. Memo 2011-54 (Nov. 17, 2011)

Show DTA Policy Guidance

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