The Online Resource for Massachusetts Poverty Law Advocates

2014 - DTA "Transitions" Newsletters


DTA Transitions from 2014 are posted here.

January 2014 Quality Corner -- In Change Reporting SNAP case, client didn't report income increase resulting in overpayment. Case manager should have checked New Hire Match, Match History Tab in Beacon; Case manager scheduled phone interview, but after phoning twice before interview date, denied case for failing to complete application process. Case cannot be denied before scheduled interview date, even if date is after day-30. Field Operations Memo 2006-30. Hotline -- “From the Hotline” Index for 2013; FYI -- Direct deposit required for any TAFDC and EAEDC clients with active bank accounts; exceptions if disability and no transportation; domestic violence and abuser is co-owner of account; or no transportation within 1 mile of house or bank. 106 CMR 706.410.

February 2014 Quality Corner -- Caseworkers must check case record and incoming mail before closing a case or denying benefits; verifications must be entered into BEACON as soon as possible after received. Caseworkers should issue pending denial form same day verification checklist issued giving 60 days for verification, and should deny case in BEACON on day 30 suppressing BEACON generated denial notice; Hotline -- no follow-up on assets required for categorically eligible (cat el) SNAP households. Any pension or retirement withdrawal after first is counted as unearned income for cat el SNAP house. Counted as asset (minus penalty for early withdrawal) for TAFDC and EAEDC; 1 time withdrawal may be lump sum income. Asset draw down from savings account for cat el SNAP household is noncountable income. Noncountable for TAFDC and EAEDC if under asset limit. Interest from assets is countable unearned income for cat el SNAP households; FYI -- New Under Age 65 MassHealth Application and Member Booklet; Resource Inventories Page Update to include low cost banking options and ways to avoid fees.

March 2014 Quality Corner -- Clients not paying for utilities do not get heating/cooling SUA; invalid denial if case managers suppress BEACON-generated denial notice; Hotline -- SSA match, identity match, name preferences and discrepencies, and BEACON issues- DTA uses name on file with SSA as primary name in BEACON- different names can be added in Alternate Names field.

April 2014 Quality Corner -- Non-public Assistance SNAP case: First wage stub entered in earnings tab, then $0 wage in 2nd week (had just started work). Caseworker didn't include shift differential income on pay stub, and incorrectly checked 'Prospective Averaging' checkbox for $0 wage entry (this 2nd week should not have been checked and averaged in)- causing overpayment. Cases should be denied on 30th day or will create neg error for quality control. Elderly noncitizen age 65+ can submit SNAP DVEN form for disability to get SNAP even if in U.S. less than 5 years; Hotline -- SNAP person aged out of under-18 LPR status has to meet other LPR status (40 credits work history, disability, etc) 106 CMR 362.220(B)(7); may be able to get EAEDC with less than 5 yrs LPR. Could also meet other noncitizen qualifying status (examples listed).

May 2014 Hotline -- Leave client with full heating/cooling SUA at recert over summer- H-EAT eligibility redetermination in fall; where client is staying with friend not paying rent, caseworker should deduct income-in-kind rent amount from payment standard. Income in-kind values at 106 CMR 204.510(B). Any self-declared contribution amount to friend's utilities is sufficient verification for SNAP homeless shelter/utility deduction. See Ops Memo 2010-29; fed and state housing subsidies are noncountable income for TAFDC/EAEDC and no income-in-kind shelter deduction applies; for EAEDC cash-only client living with friends not paying rent, income-in-kind shelter deduction depends (examples).

June 2014 Quality Corner -- household with member who is elderly or has disability has an uncapped shelter deduction, and can use the medical expense deduction- but if disability status not marked in BEACON, BEACON will do incorrect calculation for household, not making use of these deductions. Also, case managers should check record for verifications before closing case; Hotline -- SNAP questions for when a college student comes home for the summer. College students are continuously enrolled during vacation until they graduate or stop school, and have to meet SNAP eligibility for students. Goes into household status and how earnings are counted. If ineligible for SNAP, then not a member of parent's household and earnings noncountable. If student works 20 hrs/week becoming eligible, becomes member of parent household (if under age 22) and earnings counted. For student SNAP eligibility see 106 CMR 362.410 and for nonhousehold member earnings see 106 CMR 361.230; FYI -- ESP-7 Participation and Attendance Forms need to be entered by case managers no later than the 18th of that month or participation sanction will be created (and more data entry information).

July 2014  Quality Corner -- reminding case workers to process wage and employment matches in a timely manner; Hotline -- Beacon Customer Concern tracking

August 2014 Quality Corner -- reminding case workers to process interim reports in a timely manner to prevent improper case closings; Hotline -- list verification of medical expense (an optional verification) under medical expense, not other, to prevent SNAP denial for failure to verify; Massachusetts residency must be verified for SNAP, however no requirement for a specific type of verification can be imposed; Misc FYIs

September 2014 Quality Corner -- SSI state supplement omitted from income resulting in overissuance- case managers need to check BEACON's SSI Tracking Page. Expedited SNAP benefits case denied on same day verification checklist issued- case manager should have suppressed BEACON-generated denial notice to give client 10 days to give verifications; Hotline -- for ESP participant in Young Parent Program (or skills training/post-secondary edu activites/basic edu), when participation hrs updated on Monitor Participation page, 1hr of homework/study time auto-added. DCF quarterly clothing allowance is countable unearned income for SNAP- obsoletes SNAP info from FYI Nov 2011. New TAFDC car asset rules- for first car don't attribute equity value - and vehicles are noncountable asset for SNAP; FYI -- fuel assistance 2014-15 - applications begin Nov 1 2014 - explains how to get income verification letters. DCF quarterly clothing allowance to teen parents is noncountable income for TAFDC. People getting state/fed foster care maintenance payments + DCF quarterly clothing allowance cannot get TAFDC - If DCF clothing allowance is only payment from DCF to teen then doesn't count as state/fed foster care maintenance payments. DCF quarterly clothing allowance is countable unearned income for SNAP (USDA policy change).

October 2014 Quality Corner -- SNAP client reported full contract rent rather than portion of rent she pays, resulting in SNAP overissuance - case manager should have asked how was able to manage expenses since rent reported was more than total income, to avoid overissuance. Case incorrectly closed through Batch process for failure to provide DOR employment verification but verification timely received at EDM center - newly received documents through EDM will create action in BEACON to be processed, and case managers need to timely process them, and re-index to ECF if not already linked; Hotline -- LPRs not subject to 5-yr-wait for SNAP: if have disability at fed level; children under 18; some Iraqi/Afghan families with "special immigrant visa"; LPR from certain qualified statuses like Refugee or Asylee; born on/before 8/22/31 + lawfully residing in US on 8/22/96; worked or credited a min of 40 qualifying quarters; Vet or active duty personnel. Noncitizen with parolee status for at least 1 yr has to generally hold qualified noncitizen status for 5 yrs to get SNAP, but exceptions: like if meet battered noncitizen requirements, or if elderly + disabled, can complete SNAP disability verification for elderly noncitizens form, SNAP-DVEN (6/2008). Cuban/Haitian entrants eligible for SNAP day they arrive.

November 2014 Quality Corner -- Case managers must check household composition before processing case to prevent underissuance; SNAP applicant didn't give needed verifications by due date, but case manager denied case for not meeting SNAP household composition requirements. Case manager instead should have selected "Noncooperation" and "Failure to submit the required verifications" so client could get correct case closing notice; Hotline -- Q1 Where SNAP client is only getting some of RSDI due to overpayment, only net RSDI should count as unearned income for SNAP. Chart for whether to count repayment amount from another benefit's overpayment as unearned income for SNAP asks (1) is income means-tested, and (2) was overpayment due to an intentional failure to comply with the benefit program's rules. Only if yes to both can gross benefit including repayment amount be countable unearned income for SNAP. Q2 State Veterans' Benefits (VSB) are means-tested, but federal Veterans Administration (VA) pensions are not for SNAP purposes. So can count only net received VA pension and not repayment amount as unearned income for SNAP. For state VSB income not received as direct payments, see Ops Memo 2009-13. Q3 Only where client intentionally violated program rules resulting in overpayment for means-tested benefit can gross benefit including repayment amount count as unearned income for SNAP. Otherwise have to use net benefit amount without repayment amount. Q4 For TAFDC, always use gross benefit amount, doesn't matter if client intended to comply with program rules.

December 2014 Quality Corner -- When closing a SNAP case, case managers should not suppress BEACON-generated closing notice, otherwise this is an invalid closing and client does not get notice of closing or hearing rights; SNAP case was automatically closed for failure to complete Interim Report despite DTA's record that client had timely submitted report- case manager should have processed the IR and scheduled interview or issued verification checklist if needed- New EDM in BEACON schedules actions for case managers based on document due-dates to help; Hotline -- Q1 TAFDC must be deposited in active bank account, even if hasn't been used in years. Q2 No direct deposit exemption if owes money to bank. Direct deposit exemption where (a) bank not accessible by public transport within 1 mile of client's home or bank, (b) there is lack of accessible transportation for disability, or (c) grantee is DV survivor and bank account co-holder has history of abuse. Q3 2014 List of banks participating in Basic Banking for Massachusetts, with lower minimum requirements and better deals for low-income households. Q4 Other ways to reduce bank fees- costs $.85 when client makes 3rd cash withdrawal of month from ATM, but no bank fees when get cash back at some stores like groceries. Q5 Preassembled voter registration packets which have to be handed to all clients at face-to-face meetings doesn't change how complete voter registration page on BEACON.

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