How to appeal a DTA decision

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Massachusetts Law Reform Institute

Sometimes, the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) might make a decision in your case that you disagree with.  For example, they might deny, reduce or cut off your benefits.

This "how to" has information about steps you can take.

What if I disagree with a DTA decision?

If you disagree with what DTA does, you can:

  • Talk to a DTA worker. See if a worker can solve the problem.
  • Talk to a supervisor or local office director.
    • To reach DTA by phone: If you get cash, call your worker. If you get SNAP only, call the DTA Assistance Line at 877-382-2363. 
  • Appeal. There is a deadline to appeal. It is usually 90 days after the date on the notice. File your written appeal before the deadline.

Even if you are trying to solve the problem by talking to someone at DTA, you may want to file an appeal. It can take a while to get a hearing, so it is good to start the process right away. This way you will have a hearing scheduled in case DTA does not fix the problem. If DTA does fix the problem, you can always “withdraw” (cancel) the appeal.

How do I file a DTA appeal?

When DTA sends you a letter denying, stopping, reducing, or changing your benefits, they include information about how to appeal.  You have 90 days from the date on the notice to appeal. But you need to appeal sooner if you want to keep getting benefits while you wait for the hearing. See the information about aid pending below.

In the envelope with the notice there should be an appeal form. You do not have to use this form to appeal, but you can.

To file an appeal:

  • Send DTA a DTA appeal form (sent to you with notices),
  • Write on a piece of paper you want to appeal a decision, or
  • Call the Division of Hearings at the DOH at (617) 348-5321 and leave a detailed message. 

If you write your appeal request or request an appeal by phone, be sure to include:

  • Your name,
  • Your mailing address, 
  • A statement of what you are appealing. Try to be as specific as possible. Include the date of the notice if you have it. 
  • Your DTA Agency ID number (On all DTA notices and on DTAConnect).
  • Best phone number to reach you at.

To send DTA an appeals form or statement:

  • Mail: DTA Hearings, P.O. Box 4017, Taunton, MA 02780.
  • Fax: (617) 348-5311.
  • Bring into a DTA office.

You can submit it on DTAConnect, but call DOH at (617) 348-5321 to make sure they got it.

Learn more about filing an appeal with DTA on DTA’s website.

Call your local legal services office if you want help or you are confused about whether you should appeal. 

Can I keep getting benefits while I wait for the hearing?

If you are already getting TAFDC, EAEDC or SNAP benefits and want to keep getting the same amount while you are waiting for the hearing and decision, you need to file the appeal before the date the reduction or termination takes place. This is called “aid pending.” 

One exception to this rule is if your SNAP is cut off due to an Interim Report issue. If so, you have to file your appeal within 10 days from the date of the termination notice to get benefits while you wait for the hearing.

If you appeal your SNAP ending due to a SNAP Recertification, you can’t get aid pending.  

Remember to keep copies of everything you send to DTA.

What happens at a hearing?

The hearing is your chance to make sure that DTA has all the facts and documents that support your case.  Hearings take place over the phone, unless you ask DOH to schedule an hearing in person or over Zoom.

Both you and the DTA worker will have a chance to explain your positions.  A hearing officer runs the hearing.  The hearing officer should, in most cases, decide your case within 30-60 days of getting your request to appeal.  For more details about DTA hearings, see Question 109 of the SNAP Advocacy guide.

If you need records from your DTA case, call DOH before the hearing and ask for a copy. If you don’t get what you need, tell the Hearing Officer you need time to review evidence in your case. Examples of records that might help include

  • the notes in your case file (called “case narratives”), 
  • copies of notices DTA has sent you, and 
  • copies of what you sent to DTA.
What happens if I lose my DTA appeal?

If you lose your appeal, DTA can take back the benefits (“aid pending”) they paid you while you were waiting for your appeal decision. That money will be considered an "overpayment."

If you are still on the benefit you were overpaid, DTA can not take the money back all at once or ask you to pay it. They should only lower your family's benefits by a small amount each month until the overpayment is repaid.

If you are not getting the benefit you were overpaid, there are many rules about how DTA can collect an overpayment. You do not need to send DTA all the money at once. Contact Legal Services if you get any notices about an overpayment.

You have a right to ask the DTA Commissioner for a new hearing or to review the decision within 14 days of the decision. You can also appeal the denial by filing in court within 30 days of when you get the decision.

See Questions 110 of the SNAP Advocacy Guide to learn more.  You can also contact your local legal services office to talk about these options if your appeal was denied.


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