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Special Coalition meeting 9/14 with FNS Regional Office; Benefits for Afghan evacuees, Benefits for households losing Unemployment

MLRI is hosting a special SNAP Coalition meeting on Tuesday, September 14th to welcome the new USDA Food and Nutrition Service Deputy Regional Administrator Lizbeth Silbermann and give Coalition members updates on the new Thirty Food Plan changes to SNAP, updated 2020 food insecurity data and more. (We will also hold our "regular" Coalition meeting on Tuesday, 9/28).

9/14 SNAP Coalition Agenda:

·         Introductions and welcome to FNS NERO Deputy Regional Administrator Lizbeth Silbermann. FNS NERO will share important updates with Coalition members including the boost in the Thrifty Food Plan, recent food insecurity data and more!

·         Strategies to help households losing their unemployment benefits (PUA and PEUC), and DTA actions to connect families with cash and SNAP benefits (see below). 

·         SNAP and other benefits for Afghan evacuees (see more below)

·         Brief update on the Child Nutrition provisions in “Build Back Better Act” released today by the Joint Committee on Labor and Education. See Committee Fact Sheet here.

·         Upcoming state budget hearings on distribution of the $8B ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) funding and our food security priorities.

·         Check in/updates on DTA Local Office “reopening” and access issues you are seeing.

·         Simplified & mobile friendly Child Tax Credit tool for families (from Code for America – click here)

Here’s the zoom link for Tuesday’s meeting:
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/209236814?pwd=WVRjdGc3YUZkVElPTjlCWmdhd2NjUT09


Meeting ID: 209 236 814
Passcode: 658102
One tap mobile
+13126266799,,209236814# US

SNAP, school meals other benefits for Afghanistan evacuees:

We’ve fielded a few questions about what benefits recently resettled Afghan evacuees are eligible to receive. The Boston Globe reported last week that roughly 1,000 Afghan evacuees are expected to resettle in Massachusetts, but we know that the rules on who is eligible for public benefits can be confusing.   

Here’s a quick snapshot of eligibility for food, cash and emergency shelter benefits:

·         Afghans who entered the US with either “Special Immigrant Visa” (SIV) status or as “Special Immigrant Parolees” (individuals who are in the process of applying for SIV status) are also eligible for federal public benefits to the same extent as refugees. Low income SIV holders and special immigrant parolees should qualify for SNAP, TAFDC, Medicaid (or refugee medical assistance) and other Refugee Resettlement Program benefits - without any waiting period.

·         Afghans granted “humanitarian parole” for at least one year or more are eligible for SNAP benefits provided they are either i) children under age 18, or ii) receive a disability-based benefits (such as EAEDC or MassHealth as disabled). Unfortunately, there is a 5-year waiting period for non-disabled adult humanitarian parolees to qualify for SNAP for themselves. See MLRI SNAP Advocacy Guide, Q 48 for more information on eligible immigrants.  

·         Humanitarian parolees are eligible for state-funded EAEDC cash assistance benefits if very low income and are age 65+, if they have an incapacity or disabled or fall under certain rules for children. They are considered “under color of law” for EAEDC. TAFDC cash benefits are more complicated because of the 5-year waiting period.  

·         Humanitarian parolees who are homeless (and have children or are pregnant women) are also eligible for Emergency Assistance shelter benefits (they are considered “under color of law”) See MLRI Emergency Assistance Advocacy Guide.

·         There are no immigration status requirements for the National School Lunch Program, WIC or any emergency food benefits (TEFAP, MEFAP).

·         Afghan families and individuals paroled into the US can get all forms of HUD housing assistance (if available) as well as other federal public benefits like CCDF childcare, LIHEAP, FEMA programs, and other state programs.

Attached is an FAQ from Lutheran Immigrant and Refugee Services (LIRS) about the Special Immigrant Parolee status and additional benefits that may be available to Afghan evacuees. 

SNAP and TAFDC applications for those who lost all unemployment benefits

We have started to hear from families who are seeking help from DTA after getting their final unemployment (PEUC or PUA) checks. A few things to keep in mind:

·         DTA should not count any income for TAFDC eligibility if the income ended before the family applied for TAFDC. This is the case for PUA and PEUC and for any other types of income that have ended. 

·         If a household applies for SNAP, some of their terminated PUA or PEUC may count for the first month of SNAP - depending on when it was received. The SNAP worker should evaluate this, but should never require a household to file a new SNAP application. Instead, if terminated PUA or PEUC does count for the first month, DTA should then back out the unemployment starting the month after the month of the application.

·         DTA should not ask for proof that PUA or PEUC has ended. 

Please let us know what you are seeing on this issue. 

A reminder to share fliers in multiple languages from MLRI and Greater Boston Legal Services on food and cash assistance for those who lose unemployment. And you can still register for tomorrow’s MLRI and GBLS training 10:30 AM on SNAP and TAFDC cash assistance!

Training on Assisting Families Experiencing Homelessness – October 5 from 9:30-3 PM

 

This MLRI/Mass Continuing Legal Education “Basic Benefits Training” is for legal services and community partners who work with families experiencing homelessness. The training includes how to access shelter, short-term housing and services from the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD).  You will get an overview of the Emergency Assistance (EA) shelter and HomeBASE programs including the application process and how to handle denials, terminations, shelter placements, and program requirements.  Training materials include the Emergency Assistance Advocacy Guide: A Guide to Emergency Shelter and Rehousing Services for Homeless Families with Children in Massachusetts. $35 for advocates. Register here.

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