104. If I have the proofs DTA wanted, should I still ask for a hearing?
You always have the right to ask for a hearing, including if you now have the proof DTA wanted. But, you might be able to get the problem fixed without having to wait for the hearing.
If you are missing proofs and your case was recently closed or denied you can still give them to DTA.
- If you give DTA the missing proofs within 60 days of the date you applied for SNAP, OR within 30 days of the date your certification period ended or your case closed, then as long as they think the proof you sent is acceptable DTA should approve or reinstate your benefits. 106 C.M.R. § 361.700(B).
- If the documents DTA is asking for are ones you already sent them and DTA did not look at them timely, or if DTA made a mistake in failing to accept your proofs, DTA should give you benefits going back to the date they received the proof from you. You can ask to speak to a Supervisor, call the Ombuds Office or contact an advocate to help you.
Bringing documents to the hearing
You have a right to bring any documents to the hearing that you think will help your case. This includes documents you were late in giving DTA. If your SNAP benefits were denied, stopped or reduced because of a missing proof, and you bring this proof to the hearing, the hearing officer should consider it and make the necessary adjustments to your benefits.
If the missing proofs were needed for your SNAP application or Interim Report, the hearing Officer must look at the documents under the “de novo” (look anew) rule. This means that, even though the hearing is after your SNAP application or interim report is denied, if the proofs you submit are sufficient the Hearing Officer should give you SNAP back to the date of your application or back to the start of your new Interim Reporting period. The SNAP eligibility date should be the date all eligibility conditions were met regardless of when the evidence was submitted.
Example: Mary applies for SNAP on June 1. She is confused about the application timeline and does not give DTA proof of her employment pension before 60 days passed. DTA denied her June 1 application because it didn’t get her proofs in time. Mary files an appeal on August 4 and brings proof of her pension to the hearing. The Hearing Officer accepts her pension proof and approves her SNAP back to June 1. The reason for the delay does not matter because Mary filed an appeal on an application.
If the missing proofs were needed as part of your Recertification or a reported change during the certification period the hearing officer will only approve your benefits as of the date the documents were submitted. However, if DTA was at fault the hearing officer should approve SNAP benefits back to the date all eligibility conditions were met regardless of when the evidence was submitted. Examples of when DTA is at fault include:
- You timely sent DTA documents that they did not look at,
- DTA asked you for documents that are not required,
- DTA failed to send you a notice requesting the missing proofs, failed to give you enough time or failed to offer assistance when you asked for help.
Example: Mary does her SNAP recertification in May. She tells DTA in her recertification paperwork that she needs help getting proof of her pension because the company was bought out and she does not know who to contact. Her SNAP is closed on June 1 because DTA did not try to help and did not get proof of her pension. Mary files an appeal. At a hearing on June 20, Mary tells the Hearing Officer that she needed help and had to spend time finding the new company and reaching someone in HR. She brings proof of her pension at the hearing. The Hearing Officer should approve her SNAP going back to June 1 because the delay in getting DTA the proof was not her fault (because DTA ignored her request for help). The reason for the delay matters because the appeal was filed on a denied Recertification.