DTA must give you written notice of the SNAP intentional program violation (IPV) penalties each time you apply. The notice must be in English, Spanish or other languages spoken by 100 or more households in the area served by the DTA office. 106 C.M.R. § 367.550. See What if I do not speak English?
To establish an IPV, DTA has to prove that you knew the SNAP rules and your responsibilities and that you purposely violated the rules. DTA must prove with “clear and convincing evidence” that you “willfully, knowingly and with deceitful intent committed an IPV.” 106 C.M.R. § 367.750. Simple unintentional mistakes or misunderstandings between you and your worker that result in an overpayment are not IPVs.
In calculating the amount of the overpayment, DTA must give you all the deductions (shelter, child care) you would otherwise receive, with the exception of the 20% earned income deduction. 106 C.M.R. § 367.500(A).
Be sure to contact an advocate if you are notified that DTA is trying to pursue an IPV through an Administrative Disqualification Hearing.
There are many situations where DTA does not meet its burden to prove the SNAP household willfully and intentionally committed an IPV or fraud:
- DTA failed to give written notice about reporting requirements in the household’s own language as required under DTA’s obligations to serve limited English proficient households;
- The household reported a change to the DTA office, but the DTA office failed to correctly record the change or process the documents;
- DTA relied on information from a data match that was not accurate;
- The head of household had a mental health impairment which prevented him or her from willfully and knowingly acting to defraud DTA. A statement from a health provider, such as a psychologist, may be useful in showing that the individual did not act knowingly or willfully.