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1/10 Coalition mtg, end to EAs, DTAConnect to require email

Happy 2023. We have a set of important updates for you all, with more to come in the weeks ahead. And ICYMI, the Boston Globe published a fantastic 12/31 article about our MA delegation anti-hunger champ Representative Jim McGovern, and his continued advocacy to end hunger for low-income families. Please THANK Congressman McGovern and amplify through social media!  

Special SNAP Coalition Meeting re end of Emergency Allotments - Jan 10th: 

Please join our special SNAP Coalition meeting from 10-11:30 AM on Tuesday, Jan 10th.  This Coalition meeting will be focused on the end of the SNAP Emergency Allotments (EAs). DTA will be joining that call. Zoom link for the 1/10 meeting is here. (We will still have our regular Jan 24th Coalition meeting!).

Overview of the end of the SNAP Emergency Allotments

The last EA payment - impacting nearly 640,000 Massachusetts SNAP households - will be issued on March 2nd. Congress voted to end the EAs early in an “omnibus” budget package they passed before Christmas and President Biden signed on 12/29. Here’s a statement sent today to our Congressional Delegation from MLRI, Project Bread, the Food Banks of Greater Boston, Western MA, Merrimack Valley and Worcester County. And here’s FRAC’s statement from 12/20/22.

 

These payments have been issued in MA since April 2020 and make up the difference between the household’s regular SNAP benefit amount and the maximum benefit amount for their household size. For those whose regular SNAP is close to or at the maximum, the EA is $95/month. 

 

In total, Massachusetts households will lose roughly $90 million per month in federal SNAP benefits while food prices continue to soar. 

 

Schedule of the last EA payments for Massachusetts SNAP households:

  • The December EA was issued yesterday, January 3rd. 

  • The next EA payment for January will be issued on February 2

  • The final EA payment for February will be issued on March 2. 

 

Remember, SNAP households do NOT need to spend their SNAP - including their EA SNAP - right away. Unlike WIC benefits, SNAP benefits stay on the EBT account indefinitely (as long as the household’s EBT account is not idle for 274 consecutive days).

 

What you can do: We appreciate there are NO great solutions, but here’s some tips:

  • Households can check their regular SNAP amount on DTAConnect or by calling the DTA Assistance Line - 877 382 2363- and listening to their case specific information. 

  • If a household does not get the maximum amount, review the SNAP math to see if they are eligible for higher regular SNAP. This means checking if the household’s income has gone down, their rent or home ownership costs have gone up, or if they are eligible to claim medical costs and/or child or adult care care costs. 

  • Attend the special Jan 10th meeting, and look out for our “EA cliff” materials soon. 

 

Note: The other SNAP policies in place due to the federal Public Health Emergency are not impacted by this change, including expanded eligibility rules for college students and suspension of the SNAP time limit for 18 to 50 year olds. MassHealth coverage continues for the time being. And Congress did take steps to address the SNAP skimming crisis, for which we are grateful. See Boston Globe 12/24 article re Congressional action to replace SNAP benefits for some families impacted by skimming. 

DTA changes to DTAConnect mobile app in January 2023

DTA shared at the 12/6 Coalition meeting that it will change the DTA Connect mobile app in January 2023. Currently, the app requires an SSN and year of birth to log in. In January households will have to set up a DTAConnect account with a unique email and a password in order to use the mobile app (as far as we know, an email address can only be used to set up one account).  

 

Many households struggle with creating and/or effectively accessing/using email. This is especially true for households with disabilities, older adults, and homeless and/or phoneless households - many of whom have gotten comfortable with the app over the years and often check DTAConnect on a family or friend's phone. MLRI is worried that requiring a unique email to use DTAConnect will result in delays or reduced use of the DTA Connect mobile app for particularly vulnerable households. 

 

DTA has posted a general alert about this on DTAConnect and the Mass.gov/DTA pages. We do not know the date in January this change will take place and don’t have any information from DTA beyond the general alert that is posted. Coalition members shared questions and concerns with DTA during our 12/6 meeting and asked for a meeting with DTA about this change. We will keep you posted. 

January 1, 2023 increase to the minimum wage to $15

The minimum wage increased to $15 with the New Year! A reminder that the vast majority of households do not need to report changes to their income outside of their Interim Report/Recertification unless the household income goes over 200% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) for their household size. All of the reporting rules for all types of SNAP households are in the SNAP Advocacy Guide - starting with Question 94!  Note, the 200% FPL level will be increasing the end of January, stay tuned! 

Upcoming Basic Benefits Trainings in January 2023!

Join us - either in person at MCLE or via webcast - for these important basic benefits trainings, part of MLRI’s annual training series. Click on the training below for session details and to register. (Click on “Non-lawyer advocate” and “Update” to get the lower $35 fee.)