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Tips to protect your SNAP Food Stamp benefits

Produced by Greater Boston Legal Services and Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Reviewed April 2021

Did DTA stop your SNAP benefits because they asked for documents you do not have or do not know how to get?

To get your SNAP benefits back you can:

Call DTA's Assistance Line (877-382-2363)

How do I get through to a live DTA worker?

Call and:

  • Select your language. Press 1 for English, 2 for Spanish, etc.
  • Press 1 for "Current or former client, or if you have recently applied for benefits"
  • Enter your Social Security Number and year of birth. If you do not do this, you still have an option to speak with a worker. 
  • Listen to the information about your case. Press 2 for an interview or 9 to speak with a case manager. 

Note:

You do not have to enter your personal information to get to a worker. If you do not have the SSN or year of birth, or you do not wish to enter it, wait on the line. After 3 "failed" attempts the phone system will ask you if you need help. Then, press 9 to reach a worker. 

What if I cannot get through or I have to wait on hold for a long time?

  • Keep trying. Call volume at DTA changes from day to day.
  • Use the "courtesy call back" option if offered. When DTA has high call volume, sometimes the Assistance Line recording asks if you want a call back. You will need to enter your SSN and a number where DTA can call you back.

What should I ask for if I reach a live DTA worker?

  • Ask the worker "Do you have everything you need to fix my case?" If they have everything, "When will my case be opened and when will I have benefits on my EBT card?"
  • You can also see a record of the days DTA got documents from you on DTAConnect.com or the DTA Connect mobile app.
  • If they say your case is closed because documents were missing, ask them "What documents are missing and what date did my case close?"
    • If it is less than 30 days since your case closed, you can:
      • Upload the documents to DTAConnect.com or via the DTA Connect mobile app - this is the fastest way! or
      • Fax the missing documents to DTA: 617-887-8765
      • Mail the missing documents to DTA, Document Processing Center, P.O. Box 4406, Taunton, MA 02780 or
      • Drop them off at your local DTA office. During the COVID-19 pandemic, DTA local offices are closed to the public, so you cannot drop off your documents.
      • Then CALL the DTA Assistance Line 2-3 days after you send your documents. Ask a live worker if DTA received your documents and if DTA is processing them. You can also check the status on DTA Connect
    • If DTA gets your missing documents within 30 days of when your case closed, DTA should open your case. They may not give you all the SNAP benefits you missed, if they think the delay was your fault. You can appeal this decision.
    • If it is more than 30 days since your SNAP or cash case closed, see information below about applying again and appealing.
    • If you do not know what notices DTA sent you, or you do not have copies, you can use DTA's mobile app, DTA Connect, or go to DTAConnect.com to see your notices. 

What if DTA says it needs documents I do not have or I do not know how to get?

  • If you have trouble getting a document, call DTA and ask them to help you. They can call the third party or person who has the document. 
  • The SNAP rules say DTA workers must help you get verifications if you need help. DTA should help you get the best proof available. They should not cut off your SNAP because you cannot get a specific document.
  • If DTA cuts off your SNAP because of missing proof documents, contact Legal Services.

While on the DTA Assistance Line, ask to speak with a DTA Supervisor or Director

  • If your case is closed and the DTA worker does not help you or you are not satisfied with the answer, ask to speak with their DTA supervisor.
  • If you do not agree with the Supervisor, you can ask to speak with the Assistant Director or Director of that DTA local office.  Explain that you spoke with a DTA worker or Supervisor already. Go to Masslegalservices.org/DTAcontacts for contact information.

Call the DTA Ombudsman

  • The DTA Ombudsman may be able to get your case reopened or explain what’s going on. Call 617-348-5354.  Explain what happened in your SNAP case and ask for help.  Explain that you tried to reach the DTA Assistance Line and that didn’t fix the problem.

Do a new application for SNAP benefits

  • If you cannot get your SNAP case reopened quickly, apply again right away. You can still file an appeal on the closed case, even if you have done a new application!
  • If DTA will not reopen your SNAP case because they say a document is missing, as a DTA worker for help getting the missing documents. Ask for help in writing so that your request is in the case record. This can help at a hearing.

Appeal the closing or termination of your SNAP benefits

Why should I appeal?

You may be able to get SNAP benefits back to the date that your benefits stopped.  Bring missing documents to the appeal hearing, or you can show DTA made a mistake in cutting you off.

Should I do both - appeal and do a new application for SNAP benefits?

Yes. Do a new application even if you are filing an appeal. It can take a few weeks to get an appeal hearing and then another couple of weeks to get a decision on your appeal.

How do I file an appeal?

  • You can file a verbal appeal by leaving a message for DTA at 617-348-5321. In your message, include:
    • Your name,
    • Your mailing address, if you have one,
    • A statement of what you are appealing.
    • Your DTA Agency ID number or your Social Security Number. You can find your Agency ID number on any notice DTA sent you, and
    • The best phone number to reach you at.
  • Or,
    • Write your appeal request on a piece of paper.
    • Fax the form or letter: 617-348-5311, or
    • Mail it to DTA, P.O. Box 4017, Taunton, MA 02780.
      • You can also send it to DTA through DTA Connect, but if you do this call 617-348-5321 and ask them to look at what you sent in on DTA Connect.

Learn more about filing an appeal here. After DTA gets your appeal, they will send you a letter with the date of the hearing. The hearing can be in person at the local office or by phone. During the COVID-19 pandemic, DTA only schedules hearings over the phone. If you want a phone hearing or you want to know if DTA scheduled a hearing, call the Division of Hearings: 617-348-5321.

Contact Legal Services or a Community Organization

Call USDA or your local Representative or Senator, or Another Government Official, and Ask for Help

  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) may be able to help you.  USDA wants people to get the SNAP benefits they are supposed to get. USDA wants to know if people in Massachusetts are having problems with DTA. You can call the USDA Regional Office in Boston: 617-565-6370.   

  • Most State legislators try to help their constituents when they have problems. You are a constituent if you live in the area that the legislator represents. Tell your legislator’s staff what happened in your SNAP case.  Explain that you tried to contact DTA directly and that did not fix the problem. Go here to find your legislator's name and phone number: malegislature.gov/search/findmylegislator.

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.

SNAP Crisis links

Find out more about the Massachusetts SNAP Crisis

Problems with SNAP?

Call your State Representative or State Senator. Find them at

Call the USDA New England Office

  • 617-565-6370

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