The Online Resource for Massachusetts Poverty Law Advocates

Pandemic EBT Benefits, Rebates and EBT Card Delays

Here are this week’s COVID-19 related updates.  Our next SNAP Coalition call is Tuesday, April 14th at 10 AM, Look out for an eblast with log in info. 

Pandemic EBT Benefits coming soon: 

We’ve been getting lots of questions about the upcoming “pandemic EBT” benefits, or P-EBT.   As DTA noted on our 4/7 Tuesday SNAP Coalition call, they filed a plan with USDA that morning and need to wait for USDA response and approval.  Arizona, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, and Rhode Island have submitted plans and USDA approved Michigan’s yesterday. See CBPP’s just released P-EBT Blog posting here.  

Attached is MLRI’s FAQ on P-EBT based on what we know today. 

MA projects nearly 508K Massachusetts school children will receive some amount of P-EBT benefits; roughly 187K children on SNAP and 372K children approved for free or reduced-price meals.  The single most important step you can take to help families qualify is to urge them to apply for SNAP if eligible, or to contact their school to apply for NSLP benefits. 

Delays in receipt of SNAP or cash EBT cards:

Please let MLRI know if you are seeing significant delays in new SNAP or cash applicants getting their EBT cards, or replacement cards.  DTA is aware of this problem and working on it. Typically it can take 7 to 10 days to get a card in the mail sent by Conduent (the state’s EBT vendor).  DTA is not issuing any EBT cards in person right now b/c offices are closed to the public, but DTA is looking at other options to speed up issuance cards.  

Recovery Rebates: No Impact on SNAP & No Need to Call DTA

The federal CARES Act COVID-19 legislation created Recovery Rebate payments ($1,200 for eligible adults, $500 for eligible children) that will be disbursed to families over the coming weeks and months - media reports state checks will be issued as soon as Monday.   

We have been getting questions about whether folks need to tell DTA about getting a Recovery Rebate - the short answer is, NO, they do not need to report it or call DTA!  

 Federal law says the Recovery Rebates do not count as income or as assets for 12 months for programs that use federal funds like SNAP. Simply put, these payments do not count as income for SNAP (there is no asset test for most SNAP households in MA).

See the Recovery Rebate section of the google doc for more. 

Recovery Rebates and non-tax filers: How to request payments

The IRS will be making direct payments via direct deposit to those who filed taxes in 2018 or 2019 and have direct deposit information on record. For all others, the IRS web page now has a live portal where non tax filers (those who did not file in 2018 or 2019) can request the Recovery Rebate payments. 

Social Security recipients do not need to use the portal to get a payment. The Social Security Administration (SSA) has said it is sharing information with the IRS directly for Social Security recipient and is working with the IRS about sharing data to get stimulus payments to Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients - without their needing to file anything with the IRS.  So, SSI recipients can try to use the portal, but we are hopeful they will eventually get the payment even if they don't. 

The page also has a spot where people who did file taxes will be able to add their direct deposit information (for a bank or prepaid account) but that link is not yet live: 
IRS.gov/coronavirus/economic-impact-payments

For those who do not have a bank or prepaid account, JoinBankOn.org has a list of low fee, safe checkless checking accounts that can be open online and are open to people with blemished bank account histories.

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