01. How do I apply for SNAP benefits?

You have the right to apply for benefits - whether or not DTA thinks you are eligible. This is a fundamental right of all Massachusetts residents. The SNAP rules require DTA to encourage individuals who inquire about SNAP to apply. 106 C.M.R. § 361.130. DTA still needs to determine if you are eligible, but no one should discourage you from filing a SNAP application.

 There is no wrong door! You can:

Apply online:

  • Through DTAConnect.com on a computer or from a smartphone. You do not need to create an account or have an email address.

Apply by phone:

  • Call the DTA Assistance Line at (877) 382-2363 and press #7 .
  • Persons age 60 or older can call the Senior Assistance Office at (833) 712-8027. See Question 25.

Apply through your healthcare application or renewal:

  • When you apply for or renew your MassHealth or Medicare Savings Program (MSP) coverage, you can check the “apply for SNAP” checkbox. Your healthcare application is then sent to DTA for follow up.

Apply in person at any local DTA office:

  • Each DTA office must accept your SNAP application the same day you walk in. 106 C.M.R.§361.130
  • Every local DTA office also has computers/iPads for you to submit documents to your case. See Question 15.
  • If you go in person, the local office should screen you for expedited (emergency SNAP), offer to do an interview, give you an EBT card and accept any forms or documents you bring in. See Question 3 about expedited SNAP.

Mail or fax in a paper application:

Apply through a SNAP outreach provider, by calling:

  • The Project Bread Food Source Hotline at 1-800-645-8333. 
  • Call a local SNAP Outreach Provider, list available here: Mass.gov/snap-outreach. Many local Councils on Aging and food pantries, as well as the Food Bank of Western MA and Greater Boston Food Bank, do SNAP enrollment.

 See SNAP application rights: 106 C.M.R. § 361.080 et seq.

Your right to apply with minimal information

You have the right to file a SNAP application with just your basic information - your name, address, signature and the date. 106 C.M.R. § 361.130. You will still need to give DTA more information later, but don’t delay filing a SNAP application because you don’t have all the information or proofs.

If you already have a working EBT card

The SNAP application asks if you already have a Massachusetts EBT card (from past receipt of SNAP). If you have one with your name on it that works, you can still use it once your SNAP case is approved. If you tell DTA you do not have an EBT card, DTA will mail you a card. You can also go to the local DTA Office to pick one up. See Question 86.

Signing the application

Your electronic, ink or verbal signature is your agreement that the information you provide to DTA is truthful and accurate. When you sign the application, you agree that you understand your rights and responsibilities to follow the rules, including your obligation to report changes when required. 

Your right to retroactive SNAP benefits

If you are approved for SNAP within 30 days of when you apply, you should get benefits paid back to the date DTA received your signed application. 106 C.M.R. § 361.080. For example, this would be the date you applied by phone or online, or the date DTA received your SNAP checkbox application from MassHealth (typically the day after you do the MassHealth application).

Cash assistance applications while applying for SNAP

If you are applying for DTA’s cash assistance benefits (TAFDC or EAEDC), you can apply for SNAP at the same time. 106 C.M.R.§361.160. DTA must still process your SNAP benefits, even if it turns out you are not eligible for cash assistance. 106 C.M.R.§365.120(A)(1), (A)(2).

If you apply for SNAP and you also wish to apply for cash assistance, the DTA SNAP case worker should to connect you to a cash case worker to help you apply for cash benefits. For example, if you have little or no income and are 65 or older or disabled, you might be eligible for EAEDC benefits. You might be eligible for TAFDC if you are pregnant or have children. DTA should ask you if you want to apply for these benefits.

Please contact MLRI at info@masslegalservices.org if DTA did not start a SNAP application for you on the same day that you applied for cash, or if you were denied cash benefits but DTA did not make a decision about SNAP in your case.

See MLRI's TAFDC and EAEDC Advocacy Guides for more on these cash benefits, available here: masslegalservices.org/LegalAdvocacyGuides

DTA Online Guide

See Appendix G for DTA’s BEACON 5 Online Guide for this section.  

MassHealth Eligibility Operations Memos

EOM 2021-10 and EOM 2021-12 announcing the addition of the SNAP gap checkbox and SNAP signature sections to MassHealth and Medicare Savings Program applications, available here.  And MassHealth instructions on implementing the SNAP checkbox onto the HIX MassHealth Connector online application, implemented July 27, 2022. HIX System Release Update #25 available here.