FS/SNAP Policy Updates: SNAP Recert Delays, GI benefits, New "Agency ID"

1. FS SNAP Recertification Delays: DTA issued guidance that effective March 1st BEACON will automatically close Food Stamp/SNAP cases due for recertification that DTA cannot process on time - even if the household submitted its recertification form on time and did everything else it was requested to do. Here’s the DTA Operations Memo instructing staff on the auto closure policy: http://www.masslegalservices.org/node/35698.

DTA says it expects to process all cases on time, including providing an opportunity for an interview, rescheduling the missed interview, and sending the household notice of missing verifications with time to return them. But - we are very concerned that some FS/SNAP households will be terminated when the DTA processing isn't completed, even though the household did everything it was requested to do.

We would like to hear from Coalition members about any SNAP households that submit their SNAP recertification forms on time but the benefits do not continue because of a DTA processing delay or mistake. If there are ANY gaps in receipt of SNAP benefits due to DTA delay in processing recertifications, we want to hear about it!

As discussed at the last Coalition meeting, the new DTA policy was a response to directives from USDA to reinstate the "auto closure" process.

2. DTA policy guidance on students and SCSEP program: In the February 2011 Transitions, DTA issued two important food stamp/SNAP Q and A's as follows:

· Payments made under the Montgomery GI bill to veterans attending school are not countable income for SNAP or cash assistance, because they are not intended for day-to-day living expenses.

· Income earned under the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) is not countable under on federal law (Title V of the Older American’s Act). For a copy of the February Transitions Hotline Q and A, go to: http://www.masslegalservices.org/node/35591

3. DTA notices now using “Agency ID” versus client SSN: Based on federal law requirements to limit use of an individual’s SSN (to protect against identity theft), most state agencies are moving away from using SSNs to identify clients. Since October/November, DTA has been sending notices to clients using a client case number known as an “Agency ID.” This “Agency ID” can be used for reference when talking with DTA staff about a client case (although DTA staff will also pull up a case from BEACON using the SSN if you or the client do not know the client's "Agency ID"). Your organization might want to start using the Agency ID (if known) on written authorization forms signed by the client which allow you to speak to DTA, as well as on documents you fax or mail to DTA. Not all DTA clients will know their “Agency ID,” and clients new to DTA will not have one. You can find the “Agency ID” in the upper right hand corner of client notices, in lieu of the SSN.

NEXT Coalition Meeting: Tuesday, March 29th from 10 to 12 at St Francis House, Boston

Patricia Baker
Mass Law Reform Institute
99 Chauncy Street
Boston, MA 02111

PH: 617/357-0700 x 328
FAX: 617/357-0777