1. DTA Voter Registration Procedures: DTA recently issued Operations Memo 2011-18 which describes the local DTA office procedures for assisting SNAP and cash assistance applicants who come in person to the DTA office with voter registration. SNAP applicants who are both 18 + and U.S. citizens should be asked if they want to register to vote. If yes, they will be provided with a Mass Official Registration Form. The client can either deliver to the local city or town election office, or that DTA sends in. Here's the link to DTA Operations Memo 2011-18: http://www.masslegalservices.org/node/37380
SNAP applicants who apply for benefits on line ALSO have the right to check off on a SNAP application that wish to register to vote (the question only comes up on the Web application if the applicant states he or she is a U.S. citizen.) The DTA SNAP Web Unit then sends a voter registration form to the client and the client is instructed to drop off or send the completed form to the local town clerk. The voter registration form itself is on a postcard that is addressed to the Board of registrars or election committee at the city or town hall with a space for the client to fill in the city or town they live in. (Again, the DTA Ops Memo 2011-18 describes the in-office DTA procedures for assisting with voter registration.)
2. My Accounts Page and SNAP Recertification/Semi Annual Reporting Forms The following message is from MLRI's AmeriCorps member, Kelly Love firstname.lastname@example.org
The My Accounts Page feature available through the Virtual Gateway - https://hhsvgapps01.hhs.state.ma.us/ierhome/LandingPage.do?method=displayConsumerHomePage&pageSwitch=HOME - is a very useful tool for checking the status of a client's current SNAP case. The My Accounts page allows a SNAP recipient (or his/her advocate) to access specific information about her case including: current DTA case manager, status of benefits, benefit amount, next benefit payment date, next recertification date and notices from the last 90 days. This tool is especially useful for SNAP recipients who do not have stable mailing addresses. Attached is a screen-shot of a sample My Accounts page.
A recent issue that has come up is the inability to pull up notices that include a semi annual report. MLRI has reported the issue to technical support for the Virtual Gateway and they are currently looking into programming issues that may have triggered this problem. If you use the My Accounts Page to retrieve client notices or semi-annual reports and you have difficulty accessing any notices, please let us know by calling Kelly Love at (617) 357-0700 x306.
NOTE: We are hoping to host a special presentation on the "My Accounts Page" with DTA or Virtual Gateway staff at the June 28th Food SNAP Coalition meeting. Mark your calendars and we will keep you posted.
If you assist clients with on-line applications, the My Accounts Page is becoming a great tool for clients to check the status of their benefits, notices and (assuming we get this problem fixed) accessing forms they need to fill out and return. MLRI has been helping homeless clients at St Francis House and Cardinal Mederios Center set up free email accounts for the MAP. These locations also have computer banks and printers for clients. We are finding that, for the most part, the MAP is a useful tool for clients who move around a lot, are comfortable with computers. Unfortunately, the MAP is not currently in any language other than English.
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