The Online Resource for Massachusetts Poverty Law Advocates

Zoom info for Tues, NCOA grants, SSI filing deadline, Congress SNAP action

Join us tomorrow, Tuesday, for our weekly SNAP COVID-19 Zoom call.  Agenda below.  We also have a few updates.  Please let Pat or Vicky know if you have additional items for the agenda.

Emergency Grants to community groups working with older adults:

The National Councils on Aging (NCOA) has just announced the creation of an Emergency COVID-19 Response Fund for local community organizations working with older adults.  See information here: NCOA.org/covid-19/covid-19-community-response-fund/ To get updates on when the grant proposal will be opened up, send an email here: responsefund@ncoa.org

SNAP Coalition Zoom call - Tuesday 4/28 from 10-11:30

The agenda will cover (subject to change):

  • Federal updates/next steps (see Action Item below)
  • DTA updates & checking in with community partners including: status of pandemic EBT (P-EBT) issuance, April’s SNAP supplemental boost, EBT card issuance process, impact of PUC (pandemic unemployment comp- $600/week through end of July) on SNAP eligibility, etc. 
  • Brief update on the state’s Food Security Task Force
  • SNAP and P-EBT for immigrant-headed households: Reminder on how to advise families
  • Cash assistance access:  Reminder re how clients can apply for EAEDC, TAFDC and Chapter 115 veterans services
  • Helping clients access the CARES Act Economic Stimulus Payment

 

ACTION ITEM: Congress needs to boost SNAP for ALL in next COVID-19 package

For those who missed it,  on Friday the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) held a SNAP messaging call to highlight the importance of boosting the value of SNAP benefits in the next federal COVID-19 package. USDA narrowly interpreted the Families First Act to limit supplemental SNAP payments only to households getting less than the maximum SNAP.  While the SNAP boost is helping many households, it is not helping the lowest income households during the pandemic. Here are the core messaging themes that you can use in your local media work, letters to the editor, letters to Congress and with family and friends in sister states.

  1. SNAP households not receiving the Families First Act SNAP emergency supplement – because they get the maximum SNAP benefit – have the lowest incomes and/or highest expenses (especially shelter costs). They need emergency SNAP benefits as well!
  2. The maximum monthly SNAP benefit does not help households put enough food on the table for an entire month in normal times, let alone during a pandemic.
  3. Increasing the food purchasing power of low income families helps put food on the table and boosts the economy - SNAP is used to buy food at over 5,000 retailers in MA and each dollar of SNAP spent generates between $1.50 and $1.80 in economic activity. 

FRAC’s Legal Director Ellen Vollinger explains why we need to advocate to boost SNAP benefits for all households in the next COVID-19 package. 

ACTION STEP:  Recent reports indicate that the next package would include assistance for businesses and healthcare efforts, but not SNAP — we must insist that individuals and families need immediate relief.  Continue to contact your Senators and Representatives (call, email, tag on social media) and urge them to include SNAP in the next COVID-19 package. Include the White House @WhiteHouse in your Tweets and outreach.  See FRAC’s webpage on next steps FRAC.org/covid-19-actions

Economic Impact Payments & SSI Recipients – filing deadline to get $500/dependent quickly is May 5

Background: These payments ($1,200/adult, $500/dependent) are for all who have incomes of less than 75k/year. Certain people who do not typically file taxes need to file paperwork with the IRS to get the payments – by filling out the non-filer tool on the IRS website. Social Security (RSDI) and SSI recipients do not need to complete this form because their $1,200 will be direct deposited. However, if they have dependents, they DO need to fill out this form. The federal administration set quick deadlines for households to complete the form to get the $500/dependent – and if the deadline is missed, households will not get their child payments before 2021. For many RSDI households the deadline already passed. The IRS announced the deadline for SSI recipients is May 5. 

Advocates and members of Congress have been pressuring the Administration to ensure low-income seniors and persons with severe disabilities who miss this wildly fast deadline can access the child benefits sooner than 2021. But, for now, the best advice is that SSI recipients should file as soon as possible.

Also note that RSDI or SSI beneficiaries who started receiving after January 1, 2020 can continue to use the IRS non-filer web page to get the dependent payment without waiting until 2021. 

See information from SSA here. Reminder that these payments do not count as income for all DTA benefits.  

For organizations that may be able to help with filing, see here (confirm with the organization they are working remotely): Masscap.org/freetaxprep/


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