92. What if I lose food due to a power outage, a fire or a natural disaster?
Disaster SNAP Benefits
When the President of the United States or the Food and Nutrition Service declares a major disaster, families and individuals who live in the disaster area may be eligible for SNAP benefits as long as they meet special (higher) income limits. See Appendix B, Chart 5. 106 C.M.R. §§ 366.600-366.620. These emergency SNAP benefits are called Disaster SNAP, or D-SNAP. The special benefits are provided to families who are not SNAP recipients at the time.
To receive D-SNAP, the only proof required is proof of your identity (who you are). Other proofs may be requested, but are not mandatory. You do not need to be eligible for or receiving SNAP already to qualify.
If you are already getting benefits and you lose food due to a federally declared disaster, you may also be eligible to receive additional SNAP benefits. Normally the federal government will provide second SNAP payment of benefits because of the disaster. 106 C.M.R. § 366.620.
Replacement SNAP Benefits due to Misfortune
DTA can also give help you replace food you purchased with your SNAP benefits that you lost or had to toss due to a "household misfortune" event. This includes a fire, flood, power outage, equipment failure or utility shut off. If your food was destroyed or became unsafe to eat because of lack of refrigeration you can ask for replacement SNAP benefits. If the loss is due to a power outage, the outage must have lasted for 4 hours or more. You may get up to the amount of one month’s SNAP benefits. 106 C.M.R. § 364.900(C).
You need to report the loss of food to DTA within 10 days of when the food was destroyed or you threw it out. Within the following 10 days, (if you did not already provide DTA with this information), you need to tell DTA the date of the misfortune event, the date you lost or tossed your food and the dollar value of the food list that you purchased with SNAP.
You can make the report and tell DTA this information by:
- Calling DTA and verbally report it to a worker,
- Sending DTA a handwritten note (fax, mail or upload it to your DTA Connect Account), or
- Filling out DTA’s “Request for Replacement SNAP Benefits Due to Household Disaster or Misfortune” form.
In situations of widespread power outages, DTA may get information on the outage through the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA), local media, the Red Cross or by contacting the area utility companies or municipalities to verify the power loss or disaster. DTA is responsible for helping to verify your report.
- DTA webpage on SNAP Household Misfortune
- MLRI's "Know Your Rights" flier on SNAP & Household Misfortune: Masslegalservices.org/SNAP-Replacement-Benefits-Household-Misfortune
- The Food Research Action Center (FRAC) has An Advocate’s Guide to the Disaster Food Stamp Program (2018) that has helpful background on D-SNAP.
- USDA Disaster SNAP guidance for states: USDA Disaster Assistance, guidance to states: Fns.usda.gov/disasters/response/D-SNAP_Handbook/guide.htm.
- USDA D-SNAP Resources for State Agencies and Partners (current as of 9/2/2022)
DTA Online Guide
See Appendix G for links to the DTA’s BEACON Online Guide for this section.