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When can your benefits be stopped for an intentional program violation?

Alert

DTA made a number of changes and suspended a number of rules during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Guide notes in red when a rule was suspended during the pandemic.

Produced by Deborah Harris Betsy Gwin, Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Reviewed December 2022

DTA rules say it can stop your TAFDC benefits if you are found to have committed an intentional program violation (IPV). These rules may not be legal. Email [email protected] if DTA says you are not or will not be eligible for TAFDC because of an IPV.

According to DTA rules, if you are found guilty of an IPV by a court of law or by a welfare hearing officer or you waived your right to an IPV hearing or signed a consent agreement in court, you will not be eligible for TAFDC benefits for yourself for

DTA has to follow special notice and hearing rules if it has charged you with an IPV. 106 C.M.R. § 706.320-706.345.

In addition to disqualifying you from benefits for an IPV, DTA will recover the overpayment by taking money out of your children’s future benefits. See Can DTA cut your benefits to pay itself back?. See What happens if you are excluded from the assistance unit? on other possible effects of an IPV sanction.

There are separate but similar IPV rules for SNAP (food stamps). 106 C.M.R. §§ 367.500-367.800. The SNAP IPV rules may be legal even if the TAFDC IPV rules are not legal.

Advocacy Reminders

  • Although DTA can recover the overpayment by cutting benefits for children or other people who were on the same grant with the person who committed the IPV, DTA rules say it can only stop benefits for the person who committed the intentional program violation.
  • DTA has agreed not to not to bring an IPV case against you if DTA did not provide you with written warnings about IPV penalties in a language in which you are fluent.
  • The period of disqualification must begin with the first possible month after written notice of the decision. 106 C.M.R. § 706.305. If DTA misses that date, you should not be disqualified.
  • DTA says that if you are found to have committed a TAFDC IPV, you can be disqualified from SNAP even if you were never charged with or found to have committed a SNAP IPV. 106 C.M.R. §  367.800.
  • An IPV is a very serious matter. Contact legal services right away if you get notice of an IPV. See Appendix D: Massachusetts Legal Services Offices.

Note

Under DTA rules, you can also lose TAFDC benefits forever if a court convicts you of fraud of $1,000 or more, even if this is the first conviction. You can lose your benefits for ten years if a court convicts you of intentionally trying to get benefits from two states at the same time. 106 C.M.R. § 706.305.

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