The Online Resource for Massachusetts Poverty Law Advocates

Census deadline today! + DTA updates, action alerts, and more.

A number of updates and resources below. Our next Coalition meeting will be on Tuesday, October 27 at 10 AM. And - most importantly - the Census deadline is TODAY!! Complete the Census TODAY, and make sure everyone in your network has too! 
 
DTA waiving interview for SNAP applications/Recertifications where all required info provided
 
As of today, October 15, DTA is not requiring an interview for certain SNAP applications and Recertifications. The interview is waived for SNAP applications and Recertifications where DTA has all the proof documents and information they need to make an eligibility determination (note that Recertifications where all members are 60+ or disabled in general do not need to have a Recertification interview). In cases where DTA does not have all the information they need an interview is still required (until they get all the mandatory information). 
 
For applications and Recertifications that are currently pending an interview, that interview may no longer be required - but we recommend checking to see if the case has been processed and err on the side of calling DTA to confirm. For new applications and for future Recertifications, we encourage sending proof documents in via DTA Connect at the same time as the application to speed up the process! 
 
For more information, including a flow chart of how this process should work created by MLRI, see the MLRI COVID & DTA Benefits google doc here. 
 
DTA Connect - resources and options without having to speak with a DTA worker 
 
When DTA experiences very high call volumes there are very long wait times and many callers get a "high call volume" message and are disconnected. Some tips on getting questions answered and ensuring households can be connected to SNAP as quickly as possible:
  • As a general rule of thumb, families with income below 200% FPL should apply for SNAP as soon as possible. The fastest way to apply right now is by doing an application online/from a smartphone on DTAConnect.com
  • Check on case information and notices - and send DTA documents quickly - via DTAConnect.com or the DTA Connect mobile app.
  • Households can complete Interim Reports and Recertifications on DTAConnect.com via their account
  • Keep phone number and email address up to date to get notices and alerts from DTA. These can be updated on DTAConnect.com or via the DTA Connect mobile app.
  • Note that currently DTA Connect does not allow households to update their. DTA is working to fix this. To change an address on a DTA case, for now we recommend writing the new address on a piece of paper and submitting it through DTA Connect.
  • Keep an eye out for text messages from DTA and pick up calls from DTA. DTA workers should call 3 times in a row. Calls from DTA should show up as calls from 877 382 2363, from Comm of MA, or from a number starting with “857.” Workers should leave voicemails.
Presentation on systemic racism and welfare
 
Professor Vincent Fusaro from Boston College recently did a presentation on Systemic Racism and Welfare for the Lift Our Kids Coalition (click here to learn more and join Lift Our Kids if you haven't already! And see action alert below!). 
 
This is a powerful and important overview of the impact of systemic racism on welfare rules and policies (such as work requirements). We wanted to  share with you all his powerpoint (attached) and a recording of his presentation here.  
 
Organizational sign on letter to Governor Baker - #Tech4Food to Close the SNAP Gap!
 
Please add your organization's name to a sign on letter to urge Governor Baker to close the SNAP Gap quickly. In July, the Massachusetts Legislature passed an "IT Bond Bill" that includes authorization for the Baker Administration to borrow up to $5M to make important systems changes that will allow health care applicants and recipients to apply for SNAP at the same time. A significant number of MassHealth applicants and recipients are eligible for but not getting SNAP - 100% federally funded nutrition benefits.  And during COVID, all SNAP households get the full SNAP benefit amount and all SNAP children get Pandemic EBT benefits. Please read the text of the letter and add your organization to this Sign-on letter HERE. 

Lift Our Kids Budget Action Alert - take action today!
 
The Massachusetts Legislature is now working on a final budget for Fiscal Year 2021.  Please ask your state legislators to urge Leadership to Lift Kids Out of Deep Poverty in the FY21 budget!  Click here to enter your address and send them an e-mail. 

Lifting Kids Out of Deep Poverty means raising cash assistance grants by 10% per year until they reach 50% of the federal poverty level -- currently $905month for a family of three. Grants have lost half their value since 1988 due to inflation, while the cost of necessities like toilet paper, diapers and children’s Tylenol have skyrocketed.  The current maximum grant for a family of three is only $593, leaving families struggling to meet their children's basic needs.  The COVID-19 pandemic has made the need to address our inadequate safety net even more urgent than ever.
 
Information on voting for individuals not able to access the paper voting ballot 

The Disability Law Center has compiled information on how individuals can be approved to Use the Accessible Vote by Mail (AVBM) Program as an accommodation. The information is posted on the Disability Law Center website here. 

The voter registration deadline for the November 3 election is October 24! 
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