How does DTA calculate the amount of the SNAP overpayment ?

We are in the process of updating the SNAP Advocacy Guide, so some of the information is no longer current.  In the meantime, you can read or download a pdf of the 2022 guide from

Produced by Patricia Baker and Victoria Negus, Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Reviewed January 2020

An overpayment is the difference between the SNAP you received and the SNAP benefits you were eligible to receive based on the correct information about your case.

DTA should include all applicable deductions, just like when it normally calculates your SNAP. See How does DTA count the income of someone not in my SNAP household?  However, if the overpayment is due to unreported income, DTA will not include the 20% earnings disregard if the overpayment was your fault (a UPV) or if you were found to have committed fraud (an IPV). 106 C.M.R. § 367.495(D).


Jill accidentally didn’t report earnings of $1,000 per month. When calculating her overpayment, DTA will count the full $1,000/month (instead of $800).  If it turns out that Jill had sent in her pay stubs and DTA failed to act on the proofs she had submitted, DTA should only count $800 when calculating the overpayment – because the 20% earnings disregard does apply for Agency Error overpayments.

  • For all overpayments, the first month of an overpayment is the month the change would have been effective if it had been reported by you timely, or acted on by DTA timely. 106 C.M.R. §§ 367.495(D), 367.500(A).
  • Federal regulations also require DTA to calculate the amount of an overpayment by doing a month to month calculation – not by averaging out an amount of income over the period of the overpayment. 7 C.F.R. 273.18(c)(ii)(A).


Jane started a job in mid-June. She gets both SNAP and TAFDC. Because she is getting TAFDC, she is on change reporting and not simplified reporting. Jane was confused about the reporting rules and did not report her new job until her reevaluation for TAFDC and SNAP in October (four months late). DTA decided Jane had an Unintentional Program Violation overpayment. DTA must calculate the SNAP and cash overpayment by looking at Jane’s actual income month by month, and not average her total income over the four months.

  • DTA should reduce the amount of an overpayment by any amount of SNAP they “expunged” (took away if you didn’t use your EBT card for a year). 7 C.F.R. 273.18(c)(ii)(C). See If I forget to use my EBT card, does my case close or will I lose benefits?
  • DTA should reduce the overpayment by any underpayment of SNAP that DTA owes you. 106 C.M.R. §§ 366.550. 366.560.
  • DTA should not include any overpayment amounts that occurred more than 12 months before the date a UPV or Agency Error overpayment was discovered. For IPVs, DTA can calculate the overpayment going back 6 years.


Advocacy Reminders

  • Contact MLRI if you have questions or for a copy of DTA’s most recent SNAP Claims Policy.
  • There is no overpayment if you did not report a change that you were not required to report or would not matter. For example, if you were on Simplified Reporting and you did not report an increase in income in between your Interim Report and your Recertification, there is NO overpayment unless the increase put your household over the gross income limit. See What is Simplified Reporting and when must I report changes to DTA?
  • The first month of an overpayment is the month the change would have been effective if it had been reported timely. In May 2017 federal rules were changed regarding timely reporting of income in simplified reporting cases. Effective May 8, 2017, households are not required to report if their income exceeds the gross income test until the 10th day of the month following the month in which the income exceeded the gross income test (the old rule was within 10 days of the receipt of income). 7 CFR 273.12(a)(2). See What is Simplified Reporting and when must I report changes to DTA?  Contact MLRI if DTA pursues an overpayment against your household because your income exceeded the limit for your household size.
  • If your household includes an ineligible non-citizen with income, check to make sure DTA followed the special income counting rules when calculating the overpayment. See How does DTA count the income of an ineligible immigrant?
  • DTA should not take any supplemental payments that are issued in connection to your current SNAP and a change you report. Contact MLRI if you are worried DTA did not do this correctly.

DTA Online Guide: Home > Cross Programs > Overpayment and Recovery


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.

Help us improve MassLegalHelp!

Take a short survey to tell us what works and what is missing.

Ask a Law Librarian

If it's
9am and 4pm