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How do I file an appeal to get a fair hearing?

Produced by Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Reviewed March 2023

You can ask for a hearing by either: 

  • Calling the Division of Hearings at (617) 348-5321 and speaking with a Division of Hearings worker or leaving a voicemail with information about what you are appealing. or
  • Writing to DTA, P.O. Box 4017, Taunton MA 02780‐0314. You can also use the DTA “Request for an Appeal” that is on the back of the notice DTA sent you, sample DTA form available here. You should write or verbally explain the reason why you want a fair hearing, and what action DTA is taking that you are appealing
  • Sending a fax to the Division of Hearings, FAX 617-348-5311. Fax is better because it is faster and you have a fax receipt showing when you sent the request to the Division of Hearings. You do not have to use the DTA form. 106 C.M.R. § 343.240

To see if DTA received your hearing request call 617-348-5321 or 800-882-2017. You can also call this number if your SNAP stopped but you think DTA should have continued it while you are waiting for the hearing.

If you need an interpreter or you are homebound, you can ask for accommodations including:

  • Request that the hearing be held in your home if you are disabled and homebound. 106 C.M.R. §§ 343.310.
  • Request for an interpreter if you need one including American sign language or foreign language. 106 C.M.R. §§ 343.450and
  • Request an “expedited” (quickly scheduled) appeal, if your SNAP application for expedited benefits was denied. 106 C.M.R. § 367.225

Be sure to send your hearing request to the Division of Hearings, not your local DTA office.

Next steps after filing an appeal

The Division of Hearings (DOH) should send you a notice within a few weeks of your appeal that tells you the date and time of your hearing. DTA must send you written notice of your hearing date at least one week prior to the hearing. 106 C.M.R.§ 367.325.

Currently hearings are held by phone or through a virtual Zoom meeting. If this is a challenge for you and you would prefer an in-person hearing, or if the Division of Hearings says they cannot accommodate a Zoom hearing, contact MLRI at [email protected].

The DOH notice will have other information about what a hearing is like and what your rights are.  

Rescheduling a hearing

If you are appealing a SNAP issue and you cannot make the hearing date the Division of Hearings scheduled, you are entitled to postpone (reschedule) the hearing. 106 C.M.R. §367.200. Call the Division of Hearings before the date it is scheduled for and ask for a new date. You do not need to have a good cause reason, as long as you call before the hearing date to postpone. 106 C.M.R. 343.320(A)(2).  If you need to postpone more than once, you may need to show good cause.

If you miss the hearing without calling in advance, you will have to give a good cause reason to the Division of Hearings to get the hearing rescheduled. You will also be asked to explain to the hearing officer at the rescheduled hearings why you missed the first hearing. Good cause includes an unexpected emergency. 106 C.M.R.§ 343.320(D). Otherwise the Division of Hearings will dismiss your appeal. 106 C.M.R. 343.320(B)(1).

Cancelling a hearing if DTA fixes your case

If DTA approves or re-opens your case while you are waiting for the hearing, you can withdraw (cancel) your appeal request so you do not have to go to the hearing. Make sure you got all of the benefits you are entitled to before you withdraw your appeal request.

  • You can do this in writing. Mail or fax your withdrawal to the Division of Hearings.
  • You can also cancel a hearing by calling the Division of Hearings at 617-348-5321.
  • You will get a letter from DTA confirming that your appeal request was withdrawn. 106 C.M.R. 343.240 and 106 C.M.R. 367.150.

Do not confuse withdrawing an appeal with asking for a hearing date to be rescheduled. If you cannot attend the hearing on the date scheduled by the Division of Hearings, call and ask for a new date. You may have to explain a good reason why you need a new date.

You should not be pressured into withdrawing your appeal.

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