What is DTA required to do to show I committed fraud?

We are in the process of updating the SNAP Advocacy Guide, so some of the information is no longer current.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 2023 guide from www.masslegalservices.org/FoodStampSNAPAdvocacyGuide

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

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.

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 DTA that result in an overpayment should not be 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).

There are many situations where DTA  may not meet its burden to prove the SNAP household willfully and intentionally committed fraud including: 

  • 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.
  • You 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.
  • You, or the head of household, were not capable of willfully and knowingly defrauding DTA because you have a mental health or cognitive impairment. A statement from a health provider, such as a psychologist or psychiatrist, may help show that you did not act knowingly or willfully.

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