In follow up to Tuesday’s SNAP Coalition meeting, there are important updates we’d like to share. In terms of a “perfect storm” of challenges, in early August many parts of MA suffered extensive power outages in early August; the $600/week federal pandemic unemployment stopped, and DTA received over 23,000 SNAP applications the first two weeks of August.
In response, DTA has allowed overtime for SNAP workers and many SNAP supervisors are also processing SNAP applications, but the DTA Assistance Line is still overwhelmed with calls. We are hoping this information helps you help clients who cannot get through the DTA Assistance Line so that you can triage what’s most important.
· August 4th Power Outages and Auto SNAP replacement:
DTA requested and received USDA approval to issue automatic partial replacement benefits to 33Massachusetts towns that suffered power outages from the August 4th Tropical Storm Isaias. Attached is a PDF of an email DTA sent to community organizations that explains the automatic replacement and attached is MLRI’s updated flier. NOTE: Not every household that lost power will get automatic replacement benefits, but every SNAP household that lost power and lost or had to toss food because of the outage can request replacement SNAP, up to the dollar value of the SNAP benefits they receive each month.
· EBT Card issuance:
As you know, local DTA offices have been shut down since May and will likely continue through 2020. DTA is now issuing EBT cards from MA versus out of state, which hopefully is speeding up delivery of EBT cards. However, with the USPS mail delays, we need to know if SNAP households are not getting cards timely, especially expedited households who should receive an EBT card within 7 days. If you have clients who are expedited eligible but NOT getting their EBT card within 7 days, please contact the DTA Ombuds Office
· SNAP and $600/week PUC:
This is a reminder that because the $600/week Unemployment ended in July, none of this PUC should count for SNAP. If you have any clients whose SNAP was denied or terminated if they applied recently, please contact the DTA Assistance Line or the DTA Ombuds Office ASAP .
· College students and SNAP:
Earlier this week, all SNAP workers were advised by DTA Central that college students are not required to submit either the DTA financial aid form (EDUC-1) nor the community college form (CCE-1) for SNAP applications filed in August. If DTA asks for proofs, students can provide proof of enrollment at a community college or a financial aid award letter. DTA is working out additional policies for students, especially because many campuses are going remote this fall. Please contact MLRI if you see students being asked to get the DTA forms filled out.
· NO SNAP Application Interviews for applications filed in late July and August:
Reminder that SNAP applications filed in late July or during August do not have phone interviews - unless DTA needs to reach a client for mandatory missing proofs like wage information. Please remind SNAP applicants that they do NOT need to call the DTA Assistance Line to get an interview. SNAP applicants can check their DTA Connect account and contact the DTA Assistance Line to get an interview only if they were sent a DTA notice saying they need an interview.
· Identity proofs and immigrant parents:
The DTA Ombuds Office recently confirmed that immigrant parents who are applying for SNAP for their eligible citizen kids can prove identity through their child's birth certificate - provided if it lists the mother or father as the parents. It is important to know that ineligible parents applying for children are NOT required to provide any photo ID or a foreign passport etc.
· September TAFDC Clothing Allowance:
This is a reminder that all families who receive TAFDC cash assistance will also receive a $350 per child clothing allowance in September. DTA has confirmed that most TAFDC households will start to receive this benefit in the end of August and will be sending out regular notices to eligible. Note, the clothing allowance does not count as income for SNAP purposes. DTA’s email to partner organizations (attached PDF) gives more information on the clothing allowance.