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3 Month Time Limit -DTA's ABAWD webinar powerpoint and advocacy updates; Upcoming Basic Benefits Training on Health Care

Three Month Time Limit Hits early April for 9,500 ABAWDs or more - Please look out for clients with closed SNAP cases!

We have every reason to believe many of your clients will realize that their SNAP has stopped at the check out line. The federal SNAP policy is extremely confusing. We know it has been challenging for all to clearly describe the complex exemptions, required verifications and inconsistent work requirements. Add to this the typical USPS mail delivery hassles and client literacy challenges - we worry that many individuals who could claim exemptions or verify they have complied with the ABAWD work rules will lose benefits before this happens. Yes, the grocery store check out line may well be where they learn the news.

What can you do?

  • Reach out to your local food pantries, community meal programs to let them know of the potential surge in individuals who have lost SNAP benefits. Ask them to refer clients to you for screening. 
  • Notify local grocery stores and supermarkets to let them know EBT customers may discover their SNAP card is empty at the check out line. Ask them to alert their customer service staff - to avoid an embarrassing check out line situation and to help the customer find a local advocate and food pantry. We are working a flier to distribute to EBT retailers, but urge you to do what you can to reach out to the area retailers you know too - especially in the areas of the state that are not exempt from the 3 month time limit because they are waived high unemployment areas. 
  • Screen even more aggressively for exemptions including any possible medical impairments, household composition (is there a child in the home or a disabled person who is cared for by the individual), participation in education or training programs. MLRI screening materials HERE. DTA forms and materials HERE. Remember, if you can identify an exemption (e.g. a disability) that started in January, tell DTA to claw back the 3 months!
  • Help client's locate unpaid work or volunteer activity that can add to the hours of work of individuals working less than 18.5 hours a week, or can meet the community service requirement. 
  • CALL MLRI if you have any ABAWDs who contact you about the SNAP case closings. We will try to advise you on next steps.

DTA has started sending out the first batch of the final SNAP ABAWD closing notices this week -  a couple days before the effective date of the case closing. For example, SNAP recipients whose SSN ends in 0 or 1 were mailed the SNAP closing notices on 3/28 and 3/29 - and likely not receive the notice until the day of or even after their SNAP benefits stop. This SNAP closing notice follows the "second strike" notice sent out in mid March. Some households will get a SNAP reduction notice because one member of the household is ABAWD while the other(s) is exempt.This SNAP reduction notice will be sent to the head of household, which may not be the ABAWD individual. Again, we think this federal SNAP rule is very confusing for clients and are concerned about the confusing notices.

And THANK YOU for all you are doing to protect your clients from going hungry. This federal 3 month SNAP time limit is simply mean-spirited and unworkable. If your House Member of Congress has not signed onto the McDermott bill, House 1025, please urge them to do so. If your House member DID sign on but does not appear on the list of co-sponsors for some reason, please let MLRI know.

DTA's Recent ABAWD Webinar - Powerpoint Slide Deck

For those of you who missed the DTA ABAWD webinar last Friday and/or wanted the DTA slides, attached is a copy. If you have questions about the ABAWD implementation or related issues, send your questions to Miriam Kaufmann at DTA (she is currently at a training conference this week). Miriam's email: Miriam.Kaufmann@state.ma.us Please also cc MLRI, and we will be sure to follow up with DTA as well and/or circulate the answers.

Basic Benefits Training - Health Care Access in Changing Times: Thursday, April 7, 2016, 9:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Massachusetts health reform and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) have created programs that offer affordable health coverage for almost all low-income state residents, but navigating the eligibility system is complicated. This program is designed to give outreach workers, social workers, providers, and advocates an overview of the eligibility requirements of the main health care programs, and insight into how to assist patients and clients in becoming enrolled and maintaining coverage. Attached is a flier describing the full training schedule.

TO REGISTER: Go to: https://www.mcle.org/main/MLRI and select your training from the list. Registration (only $25 for the day) is done directly through Mass Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) and not MLRI.