The Online Resource for Massachusetts Poverty Law Advocates

709,000 unemployment recipients emailed about SNAP + EBT cards for dire need cases

Thanks to all who tuned in for this morning's Coalition meeting with FNS NERO and DTA. FNS offered to come back to another SNAP Coalition meeting to explain how "Disaster SNAP" works (when there are widespread natural disasters such as fires, tornadoes). DTA also offered to bring their SNAP Employment and Training staff on to a future call to explain opportunities for SNAP households to enroll in training programs and get support for transportation needs. So, stay tuned on when we will be hosting those presentations (likely a future 2nd Tuesday of the month). 
 
A couple of very positive updates below! Thank you all very much for sharing the barriers facing your clients - that advocacy has helped inform the 2 very positive updates below!
 
The Department of Unemployment Assistance emailed 709,000 unemployment recipients that FPUC doesn't count for SNAP!!
 
The email attached was sent to about 709,000 regular UI and PUA recipients. It explains that FPUC - the $300/week boost for all who get unemployment benefits- does NOT count for SNAP, and encourages families to go to DTAConnect.com. This is HUGE news, and is something MLRI and the Coalition pushed for! We really appreciate DTA and DUA doing this - and hope that thousands of eligible families will file an application for SNAP as a result of this affirmative outreach. 
 
The email was sent by "MA DUA" and the subject line of the email reads "Important message: Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation" - a copy of the body of the email is attached. 
 
SNAP can be a game changer for unemployed workers struggling during the pandemic - for sample SNAP amounts for different household sizes, click here for MLRI's flier on unemployment and SNAP.  
 
DTA can expedite EBT card issuance in emergency/critical cases!
 
DTA case managers have been told to flag cases where an EBT card is needed and there is an emergency situation - such as those related to domestic violence or homelessness - or a critical need. DTA has said they will come up with options to get the client an EBT card a different way. For example, DTA may be able to issue an EBT card via overnight mail.  See DTA’s guidance to staff on MLRI's google doc here, including key examples of different critical scenarios.
 
A few action items/advocacy tips regarding EBT cards:
  • flag dire need cases - such as Domestic Violence or homeless/phoneless cases - with the DTA Ombuds (email Sara Craven - sara.craven@state.ma.us). 
  • advise clients to save their EBT and P-EBT card - the card does not expire, and they do not need a new card in the future!
  • DTA shared they are working to add a question about EBT cards to the DTA Connect application and a feature to DTA Connect to track the status of an issued card - but those changes have NOT been implemented yet! In the meantime, we encourage applicants to send DTA a note via DTA Connect stating whether or not they need an EBT card. 
Please let us know what you are seeing in terms of EBT card access. 
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