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16. Should DTA help me if I am having trouble getting proofs?

ALERT:  Many of the rules in the SNAPAdvocacy Guide do NOT apply during the pandemic. Please go to the following COVID-19 & DTA benefits page: https://www.masslegalservices.org/DTA-COVID-19 until further notice for more information about changes.

Yes! DTA workers are required to help you get proofs if you tell DTA you are having difficulty. 106 C.M.R. § 361.650. Helping does not just incluse suggesting other types of acceptable documents. This can include making a “collateral contact” - a call to a third party - to comfirm information. 106 C.M.R. § 361.640(B). Two examples of when a DTA worker might do a collateral contract are:

  • Contacting an employer for missing wage information
  • Contacting another state to confirm the date your out-of-state SNAP case closed.

If you need DTA to contact a third party for information - a "collateral contact" - you will need to give DTA the third party's contact information and your written consent to contact.

If you go in person to a local DTA office - reguardless of whether you ask for help - DTA workers should affirmatively offer to do collateral contacts to verify three things:

  • employment information
  • money you get from another person (see Question 70), or
  • certain ABAWD related proofs (see Question 56)

It is important to note that DTA cannot require you to agree to a third party contact if you can verify the information they need some other way. Your privacy is important and must be respected 106 C.M.R. § 360.400.

And DTA cannot deny your SNAP just because you are having trouble getting proofs. DTA can only deny you SNAP if you refuse to cooperate with getting the proofs, refuse to be interviewed, or if DTA decides you do not meet the other eligibility rules. 106 C.M.R. §§ 360.400 and 361.650

Note: DTA should also provide you with additional accommodations if you have a disability that makes it hard for you to get proofs or comply with other DTA rules. See Question 28.

What if I am having trouble verifying my income?

If you and DTA cannot get the proof needed, the SNAP rules require DTA to accept the best available evidence for verification of income, which may end up being your self-declaration. For example, if your employer refuses to give you information about your wages or last day of work and will not talk with the DTA, or if you are self-employed and do not have detailed buisness records or make so little you do not file taxes.

Here's what the SNAP rules say:

if all attempts to verify gross income are undeccessful because the person or organization providing the income has failed to cooperate with the household and the Department, and all other sources of verification are unavailable, the Department shall determind the amunt to be used for certification purposes based on the best available information.

You can find this text at 106 C.M.R. §363.210(G)(3).

DTA Policy Guidance:

DTA Online Guide: Cross Programs > Verifications > Verifications Overview > Providing Assistance to Clients in Obtaining SNAP Verifications and > Verifications > Verification Methods > Collateral Contact