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SNAP Updates: Single 200% Gross Income Test for SNAP; Reminder on ABAWD Exemptions; Upcoming Trainings and Coalition Meetings

Happy New Year to all ! We have some important updates for Coalition members.

DTA Implements a Single 200% SNAP Gross Income Test for ALL Households!

Effective yesterday, Jan 4, 2016, DTA implemented a single gross income test at 200% of the federal poverty level (FPL). This eliminates the state's confusing bifurcated gross income tests where one bucket of SNAP households (families with children, elder or disabled) had to meet the 200% FPL test, and another bucket had to meet a 130% FPL test.

MA has been the only state in the nation with two gross income tests -  causing significant confusion for clients, community organizations and DTA staff. This administrative simplification brings MA in line with other states. It further reduces confusion for working individuals paying child support who were often were befuddled by the "SNAP math" - incorrectly assuming their gross wages, before child support paid out, made them SNAP ineligible. Many minimum wage workers paying child support are indeed eligible for a SNAP supplement!

The SNAP Coalition urged DTA to consider this change at the December 1st 2016 Coalition meeting.This is especially important in light of the new $10 min wage!  A BIG THANKS to DTA Commissioner McCue and SNAP Director Arms-Ledwith for making this important SNAP policy change. Attached is the DTA Operations Bulletin 2016-1 announcing the change to DTA workers.

MLRI has updated our SNAP Calculators as well, available here: /SNAPCalculator and Project Bread is working on their updates too.

Reminder on ABAWD Exemptions and Outreach to Health Care Providers:

Before the holidays, CeltiCare Health Plan sent an eblast to all its managed care providers to alert them to the ABAWD 3-month time limit and steps they could take to continue SNAP for their patients. In case you missed it, below are links to the CeltiCare alert and to an MLRI's FAQ for health care providers, to explain the difference between the SSI standard and the SNAP medical standard, "reduced capacity to support."  In addition, DTA is on the cusp of issuing a special screening form for homeless ABAWDs that can also trigger an exemption for your homeless clients. Stay tuned.

Upcoming Basic Benefits Trainings - TAFDC and SNAP:

TAFDC and Welfare Reform Changes - Wednesday, January 20, 2916

There have been a lot of recent developments on TAFDC and DTA has announced plans for many more changes.

This training is for legal services advocates, lawyers in private practice, social and health services workers, and community activists who want to learn about the latest changes in TAFDC (Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children) ”the cash assistance program for families. The training provides an overview of program rules and information about recent changes and planned changes in eligibility and access. There are also sessions on disability rights, dealing with the time limit and work requirement, and child care.Training presented by Mass Law Reform Institute with experts from Greater Boston Legal Services.

When: Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2016, 9:30 to 4:00
Where: Mass. Continuing Legal Education (MCLE), 10 Winter Place, Boston (Downtown Crossing)  

SNAP 101 Basic Benefits Training, Wednesday, February 10, 2016

SNAP remains the first line of defense against hunger for thousands of Massachusetts residents. Massachusetts continues to implement policy changes to increase SNAP participation and the value of the monthly benefit. Individual households often struggle with getting their SNAP applications and recertifications approved, collecting all the required proofs can be overwhelming. Some of the most challenging cases involve the rules for immigrant-headed households and how to determine if an elder/disabled or a working household got all the deductions to maximize benefits.

This SNAP 101 training is designed for legal services and community advocates, social and health services workers who work with seniors, persons with disabilities, low-wage workers, and immigrant households. It begins with an overview of the federal Food Stamp/SNAP program, the major policy changes implemented in the past year, and then an in-depth look at the nuts and bolts of eligibility, benefits calculation, and appeal rights. 

When: Wednesday, February 10, 2016, 9:30 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.
Where: Mass. Continuing Legal Education (MCLE), 10 Winter Place, Boston (Downtown Crossing)

Afternoon session on Feb 10th includes Federal and State Veterans Benefits! More details to follow.

Upcoming SNAP Coalition meetings in January 2016

Okay, we've got you covered. No excuses! Here are the three January 2016 SNAP Coalition meetings in Massachusetts:

  • Thursday, January 21st, 10-12 AM, Central Mass SNAP Coalition Meeting, Community Legal Aid, 450 Main Street, Worcester, MA 
  • Tuesday, January 26th, 10 - 12 AM, Boston SNAP Coalition Meeting, St Francis House, 39 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 
  • Friday, January 29th, 10- 12 AM, Western Mass SNAP Coalition Meeting, Food Bank WMass in Hatfield MA

If, perchance, there is a snow storm in your area on the day of the meeting - check your emails, consult with your colleagues and/or stay at home if the Governor tells you to.