We have a Coalition meeting tomorrow, 5/25 from 10-11:30 AM - agenda will include state and federal legislative and budget updates and updates / discussion with DTA on the Assistance Line changes and P-EBT.
DTA overhauls Assistance Line - please share your experiences!
MLRI and the SNAP Coalition have been advocating for DTA to improve the statewide Assistance Line since late 2014, when the statewide phone system first rolled out - there have been many problems with this system for many years. At long last, a number of significant changes are in place! We are working on reviewing all of the changes and will get out more materials soon - In the meantime, here are some big improvements:
- allows callers to "authenticate" (connect to case specific information) with SSN, Agency ID, or EBT card number
- connects callers with what they need once they provide identifying information, based on the details of their individual case- eg. an interview, a recertification, information about deadlines and reporting rules, etc.
- directly connects callers with their local DV specialist or Client Assistance Coordinator based on zip code
- expands languages to include Haitian Creole (plus Spanish, Portuguese, Cantonese, and Vietnamese)
- improves connection to bilingual staff for certain Limited English Proficient callers
- better serves cash assistance clients by connecting them to their cash case manager
Many thanks to DTA for implementing a number of key recommendations from organizations and clients over the years - including giving MLRI a spot at the table for nitty gritty discussions planning this overhaul. We are very hopeful these changes will be a game changer for many clients! But, of course, we need to hear what folks experience before we really celebrate.Please let us know what your experience is when calling - we want to make sure we can get feedback to DTA if there are issues with the new system!
Message from the Baker Administration about Emergency Allotments
Today DTA shared a message about the Emergency Allotments with Advisory Boards. As the below explains, DTA and EOHHS are working on a plan. We do not have more details at this time - please continue to advise clients to robustly claim deductions, especially medical expenses for SNAP recipients who are 60+ or have a disability!
The message from the Baker Administration states:
Last Monday, Governor Baker announced that the Commonwealth is on track to meet the goal of vaccinating 4.1 million residents by the first week of June and all remaining COVID-19 restrictions will be lifted effective May 29. The Governor also announced that the State of Emergency will end on June 15. You can learn more about the full announcement here.
The Baker-Polito Administration recognizes the critical importance of the Emergency SNAP benefits in helping Massachusetts residents combat food insecurity as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Administration is aware of the importance of extending these benefits past June 15, and is working to continue the Emergency SNAP benefits beyond June.
As we move forward, we will provide additional information as it becomes available.