The Online Resource for Massachusetts Poverty Law Advocates

P-EBT round 1 issued today, SNAP video & other important updates

The first round of the pandemic-EBT (P-EBT) benefits to Massachusetts households were issued TODAY - for certain households with active DTA benefits (see below). Also, active SNAP households will also get their April emergency SNAP supplement, likely around May 2nd. 

We will have lots of updates on our next SNAP Coalition Zoom call on Tuesday May 5th from 10-11:30. (Zoom info to come)  

We have also heard of “server delays” accessing DTA Connect from both recipients and advocates. This is likely due to the high traffic on DTAConnect by families anxious to confirm if they got their P-EBT benefits. Keep trying, but also please let us know what you are seeing. 

Round 1 of P-EBT benefits: What you need to know

DTA issued the first round of P-EBT today to school age kids "known to DTA" (meaning they are getting SNAP and/or DTA cash assistance) . This means nearly $400 per child: $199.50/student issued in this first round with another $199.50 to be issued in May. Big thanks to DTA, Dept of Early and Secondary Education as well as Project Bread, and the Shah Foundation for getting this program up and running in record time.   

SNAP or DTA cash households can check their balance through DTA Connect or by calling the EBT Customer Service phone number on the back of their cards. For SNAP households, the P-EBT will show up in addition to any SNAP balance on the card (it's not separately listed). 

DTA sent text messages and notices. Households were mailed a notice that looks like this. Some households were asked for the school's student identifier number (SASID) for one or more children. Those families received a DTA notice that includes the highlighted text. For more information on the SASID and what needs to happen in those cases, see MLRI's Pandemic EBT google doc. 

For MORE information:

 

 

New! Video on SNAP during COVID-19

Click here to view a 1 minutes and 25 second long video on DTA benefits during COVID-19 - including information about how to apply! Please share widely (Vicky also shared on Twitter).  This was produced by MLRI and the Massachusetts Websites Project, with the support of the Massachusetts Access to Justice Commission.

In addition, the SNAP Advocacy Guide is now an E-Book (while much has changed, a number of core eligibility rules have stayed the same). Check it out HERE.

DTA & disability Access during COVID-19

Our Legal Services colleagues at GLBS responsible for the historic “Harper” litigation (ensuring DTA provide reasonable accommodations to persons with disabilities) have put together guidance on disability access during COVID-19 - click here to see an overview in the google doc.  If households have disability related access issues with DTA, contact Sarah / Lizbeth at GBLS: slevy@gbls.org and LGinsburg@gbls.org  

EBT card issuance problems:  

DTA's current protocols for EBT card issuance and replacement EBT cards are in the google doc. We want to flag changes to procedures so you know what DTA is currently doing and can flag problems. For situations where the interview is waived:

  • If a SNAP applicant was never on DTA benefits before, DTA will make the request to mail out a EBT card as soon as the head of household’s identity is verified.
  • If the applicant was previously on SNAP, DTA is supposed to make a “cold call” to the household to see if they need a card. If the client does not pick up and the case was active within a year, workers have been told not to issue an EBT card. If the client does not pick up and the case was active more than a year ago, workers have been told to issue an EBT card. 
This can cut both ways when folks miss the call - those who do have a card from more than a year ago will have that card deactivated, and those who have been on in the past year but who do not have an EBT card won't be sent a card. 
 

When helping a client apply for SNAP, be sure to ask if they have an EBT card. If they do have a card, send DTA a note saying that the client has a card. If they do not have a card, send a note saying the client does NOT have a card and needs one issued ASAP. 

For any households who do not have a card and cannot get through to request one, please follow up with the DTA Ombuds office (if you cannot reach a DTA worker).  Let MLRI know about issues getting an EBT card. DTA is working on other options to get EBT cards out sooner, but we are very worried based on what we have been hearing and seeing in cases that folks are falling through the cracks.

SNAP Interim Reports and Recertifications – deadlines extended through June

DTA has extended the due dates for all Interim Reports (IRs) and Recert for 6 months. This means households on SNAP now who originally had paperwork due in March-June should stay on SNAP for at least the 6 months following their deadline without interruption (September- December, respectively).

This includes recertification deadlines for ALL SNAP cases, regardless of the type of case (eg. TBA). The extension also includes cash reevaluations. 

COVID-19 grant opportunity from Voices for Healthy Kids. 

Voices for Healthy Kids, a joint initiative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the American Heart Association, announces the launch of the new Voices for Healthy Kids COVID-19 Rapid Response Grant Opportunity. These grants are targeted at safety net issues most closely related to the Voices for Healthy Kids body of work and will support systems and policy change campaigns that focus on helping those most under-resourced better gain access to health care, healthy food, and income support and stability during this critical time.  For more information: Voicesforhealthykids.org/campaign-resources/grants


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