The Online Resource for Massachusetts Poverty Law Advocates

Impo. DTA updates: texts/emails, EBT cards, UI, etc.

A number of updates below! Thanks to the 170 of you who tuned in to the meeting on Tuesday - looking forward to another robust conversation next Tuesday. Thank you for your engagement, for raising important issues, and for getting info out to your communities! These eblasts can be shared widely, feel free to forward. 
DTA texts & emails to applicants
DTA has started sending households texts/emails (where there is a cell phone or email on record). These messages will be sent to update households at key times - such as when an application has been received or approved and when an interview has been scheduled. For more information on when texts/emails are sent and the text of the messages going out, please see this section of the google doc.  This is a very significant step from DTA during this time of unprecedented application volume. Thank you to DTA staff for their work getting this implemented. 
Also, note that because case managers are working from home, calls will come from numbers identified as Comm of MA (the 877 Assistance Line number) or from an 857 number.
New automated ways to request EBT card 
DTA has created 2 automated ways to request a card (options without having to talk to a worker) - via the Assistance Line or the online portal (not the mobile app). For clients who need a card, we highly recommend requesting a card via these options where possible. For more information, including screen shots of where to find the option, see this section of the google doc.  Please continue sharing cases where folks are not able to access their benefits because they have not yet gotten an EBT card. We are worried about these families. 
April supplemental SNAP issued on May 2
The April supplemental payments were issued on EBT cards on May 2. DTA shared that about 282,000 households received about $43 million in the April SNAP supplement. For additional information and MLRI fliers, see this section of the google doc.
DTA guidance on Unemployment benefits (UI) and DTA
When households apply for SNAP, DTA can verify certain UI information directly with the Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) - however, DTA cannot get information from DUA on PUA (UI for gig workers, etc). In situations where DTA cannot get information on UI, they should accept the best proof available - including a verbal or written self declaration.
For households who are on SNAP, DTA gets data matches on certain UI benefits (including regular UI and FPUC - the $600/week). DTA does not get data matches on PUA. Note that the data matching doesn't change reporting rules for households. For more information and a copy of DTA policy guidance, see this section of the google doc. Please let us know what you are seeing when it comes to UI and SNAP. 
DTA scorecard data for March

DTA posted its monthly scorecard report for March, showing almost 22,000 more applications were filed in March than in February (note that this data does not yet include the increase to the caseload due to COVID-19 - that won't be reflected in the scorecard for another month or two). The data also shows that, on average, 1 in 2 calls to the Assistance Line in March were disconnected due to high call volume. We are hopeful that access has improved now that case managers are working remotely and DTA implemented the interview waiver and affirmative text messages. Please let us know what you are seeing.    

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