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SNAP Checkbox on MassHealth Connector; Common Apps Victory, Lt Guv Forum tomorrow

We have some exciting and positive news to share on multiple levels:

  • the new “SNAP checkbox” MassHealth application,

  • Common App Legislative Victory,

  • Lt Governor Forum on food security tomorrow, and

  • SNAP COLA in October! 

There is NO SNAP Coalition meeting in August - but we may host an emergency meeting on the “skimming crisis” before Labor Day if needed. Stay tuned for a separate skimming update.


SNAP Application Checkbox official on the MassHealthConnector application!


The end of July, the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) implemented the final stage of the SNAP Gap - adding a simple checkbox onto the MassHealthConnector application and renewal portal. YES!  This is HUGE!  EOHHS projects that approx 700K Massachusetts residents are within the “SNAP Gap” - getting MassHealth coverage but not getting SNAP.  And many more may have neither. MA residents can now apply for SNAP benefits when seeking subsidized healthcare coverage or doing a renewal.


Here’s a screenshot of the SNAP checkbox application, attached is the MassHealth instructions (first 4 pages) sent out to all healthcare providers, an FAQ on “What Happens Next,” and a myth busting FAQ for organizations. 



Note:  At this juncture of the SNAP checkbox application, DTA is only getting “high level” head of household information.  We have urged EOHHS to ensure in the next MassHealth upgrade that all household information and verifications provided that are relevant to SNAP gets to DTA for the SNAP applications (and as required by the FY22 budget language) and will be monitoring this closely.  Please let us know how the SNAP checkbox application works for your constituencies, and if their benefits are expeditiously approved!


Governor Baker signs Common Application Legislation on August 10th


It’s true. After a LONG slog through many Legislative sessions, Governor Baker signed into law House 5108, now Chapter 174 of the Acts of 2022:An Act Providing for the Development and Implementation of a Secure Common Application Portal for Individuals to Simultaneously Apply for State-Administered Needs-Based Benefits,”  aka “the Common App.” The language was included in the FY23 budget as an outside section, modified slightly by the Governor, approved in informal session by the Senate and then sent back by the MA Legislature for his signature on August 10th.  YES!  


This law impacts not only SNAP, MassHealth and DTA cash benefits, but also fuel assistance, childcare, housing and other benefits. Implementation will not be a “snap” - but we are getting much closer to reducing unnecessary barriers and eliminating the maze for filing for benefits. HUGE thanks to our Legislative champions Senator Sal DiDomenico and Rep Jay Livingstone, and look out for updates on both implementation next steps and how we will celebrate this huge victory after Labor Day!  Please send them LOTS of social media thanks! @jaylivingstone @SalDiDomenico


Lieutenant Governor Forum on Food Security tomorrow - August 16th, 2 PM! 

Project Bread, Greater Boston and the Food Banks of Greater Boston, Western MA, Worcester Co and Merrimack Valley are hosting a virtual Lt Governor candidate forum tomorrow, 2 PM to discuss their policies around food insecurity in the Commonwealth. The three candidates attending are Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll, State Representative Tami Gouveia, and State Senator Eric Lesser.

These anti-hunger organizations are centering conversations around food insecurity and serious policy to address this issue of injustice. SNAP Coalition members are encouraged to join to learn about the candidates' stance on food insecurity before the September 6th Primary and to show that this issue is important to voters across the Commonwealth!  The virtual Forum will also be simultaneously available in Spanish.  Register HERE.  (And suggest questions you’d like to have asked!)


USDA announces SNAP benefits increases effective October 1, 2022


At the start of each federal fiscal year, which begins October 1st, the SNAP maximum benefit is increased based on the annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) as are the gross income thresholds and certain income deductions. This year, USDA has announced the SNAP COLA’s early - which is unusual and welcome! Not only will the SNAP benefits increase by 12% - a significant increase due to the cost of food, but the standard deduction, homeless dedication and shelter dedication will increase as well.


Here’s USDA’s guidance on the October 1st increase with the dollar amounts. Note, Massachusetts uses the 200% FPL gross income test for SNAP (vs the 130% FPL) under a special federal option available to states (categorical eligibility) MLRI will update its SNAP worksheets and calculators on MassLegalServices at the end of September, so stay tuned!