The Online Resource for Massachusetts Poverty Law Advocates

DTA local offices and collateral contacts & positive cash assistance changes!

We are writing about exciting changes at DTA that were implemented at the beginning of November. 
 
DTA Local Offices helping clients get proof by calling a third party directly 
 
DTA has a new policy for clients who go into a local DTA office. Starting this month, DTA case managers meeting with clients in person will proactively try to get verification by making phone calls to third parties who can confirm information (called a "collateral contact"). This is a good thing because it can help DTA make a decision about eligibility more quickly, and cut down on red tape for clients who need verification that can be very difficult to get. 
 
Case managers should offer to call a third party to get the following proofs:
  • proof that a job ended 
  • proof of money given by a friend or relative (eg. a contribution from a non-legally responsible third party) 
  • some proofs about the ABAWD work rules, including participation in a Mass Rehab program, drug or alcohol treatment, or temporary health issues. 
 
Under SNAP rules, DTA should always offer to help clients with verification, and should always do a collateral contact if the client is not able to get the verification on their own. Collateral contacts are NOT limited to the proofs listed above, or to clients who go into a local DTA office - this is just a more proactive approach by DTA. 
 
The SNAP Coalition has been advocating for this type of process for a long time - thank you to DTA for taking this important step towards improving the eligibility process! Please track whether clients who go in person to DTA are asked about a collateral contact, and let us know what you are seeing!
 
DTA implements positive changes to cash assistance
 
DTA has made 4 positive changes to its cash assistance programs -- TAFDC (Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children) and EAEDC (Emergency Assistance to Elderly, Disabled and Children):
  1. TAFDC and Income from Work: DTA implemented a 100% earned income disregard in the TAFDC math. This means that when families get TAFDC and have income from a job or who get a job while on TAFDC, income from work will not count against the TAFDC grant - for 6 months! This will apply as long as the family's total gross income is under 200% of the federal poverty level ($3,463 a month for a family of 3). 
  2. TAFDC Grant Increase for families who have to meet the TAFDC work rules: All families who have to meet TAFDC work rules saw a 2.75% increase in their grant. This means an increase for most families of $10 per month.
  3. TAFDC Higher Asset Limit: The asset limit increased from $2,500 to $5,000. 
  4. EAEDC Grant Increase: EAEDC grants increased to $303.70 per month from $92.80 per month for homeless clients.
We encourage community partners to connect very low income families with TAFDC, and connect individuals with disabilities who do not get other disability benefits and have very low assets to EAEDC. In general, applications for both programs need to be done at a local DTA office (unless the client cannot go to the office due to a disability).
 
If you have questions, or if you have clients who might benefit from these changes, please let Vicky Negus know - vnegus@mlri.org

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