The Online Resource for Massachusetts Poverty Law Advocates

option to apply for DTA benefits by phone, imp. P-EBT & schools info

Important updates on filing DTA benefit applications by phone & P-EBT. As always, see MLRI's COVID-19 google doc for up to date info (and here on P-EBT). 
 
DTA now accepts applications by phone for SNAP and cash assistance!
 

DTA now has an option to apply by phone (as of mid June). This is a very positive and important change and a very important access point for households, especially for those who do not have access to the internet or who are not comfortable doing an online application.

 

For SNAP: Households can call the DTA Assistance Line at 877 382 2363 to apply by phone.

 

For TAFDC/EAEDC: Call any local DTA office (click here for contact info) directly to apply by phone - if needed, leave a message and a case manager will call the applicant back.

  • The case manager will make a note in the case record that the application was signed by phone and that the Rights and Responsibilities were reviewed, understood and agreed to. The applicant does not need to do an online application or a paper application. The verbal confirmation serves as the signature. 
  • The case manager must do the application interview at the same time as accepting the application by phone - when applying by phone the application and the interview happen at the same time.
  • After applying by phone, DTA will mail the client a summary document with the application language. The application does not need to return this document, it is for their records.
  • Currently, DTA only accepts a signature by phone for applications.
P-EBT: Round 2 for school districts to share eligible student lists
 
A few days ago the Dept of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) sent an email to all school district SIMS contacts (Student Information Management Systems staff) asking them to upload their student files in order to identify any additional students who might not have received P-EBT cards. Students could have been missed in Round 1 (deadline May 1) because they have newly applied for free or reduced-price meals since the shutdown. Attached is a PDF of the 6/22/20 email sent to MA school districts. The stated deadline is Friday, June 26th (tomorrow!)  

We are concerned about this short deadline for school districts, especially as some districts are still accepting National School Lunch Program (NSLP) applications through June. Note, USDA has decided that the amount of the P-EBT benefits will be pro-rated for children who applied for free or reduced-price meals after May 1st:
  • Children whose families applied for NSLP in March or April already received or will receive the full P-EBT benefit ($399 total, 2 payments of $199.50 each). 
  • Children whose families applied for NSLP in May will get P-EBT from May 1st through June 19th at $5.75/day (approximately $200- this is an estimate!)
  • Children whose families applied for NSLP any time in June will get P-EBT only for June 1st through 19th at $5.75/day (approximately $80- this is an estimate!)
Please let Pat Baker know if you have school districts that run into problems with uploading additional files after June 26th. USDA has not placed any time deadlines on processing P-EBT cards (other than the benefits are only provided for the time frame of school closures). Also let us know if any families tried to apply for  the NSLP meals since school closed but were unsuccessful. 
 
Update on MA House Supplemental budget 
 
Message from Lift our Kids: Many thanks to all of you who took action and asked your legislators to provide emergency short-term relief for families and individuals living in deep poverty. 64 members of the House of Representatives co-sponsored Rep. Decker's amendment #7 to the FY 20 supplemental budget to provide this short-term relief.  This is a very impressive number during a time when all contacts must be done remotely. Unfortunately, House leadership did not include amendment #7 in the budget that the House passed yesterday. Nevertheless, the strong showing of support will help us in future efforts to address very low-income people's needs. Please thank the Representatives who co-sponsored amendment #7. 
 
Message re. HIP from the MA Food System Collaborative: Thank you for making calls and sending emails to your state representatives - more than 50 state reps signed on to amendment #41 for HIP funding yesterday! Good news - the HIP amendment was included in the amended supplemental budget H4802, and has passed the House! Next steps to come, for now please thank your state reps for supporting HIP. 
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