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MA Veterans May Not Be Receiving Correct Amount of SNAP Benefits - PLEASE flag these cases

This is an unusual post on Veterans Day, but you need to know about it.

In the past few weeks we have learned of erroneous SNAP cases where DTA has been counting the wrong amount of VA Pension in calculating SNAP benefits. The VA Pension program is the needs-based federal program for non-service connected disabled and/or elderly veterans. It appears that many of these veterans many be getting lower SNAP benefits that they are entitled to receive and/or hit with SNAP overpayments as a result of DTA retroactively counting the wrong amount of the VA Pension.

Sometimes the VA withholds a portion of the monthly VA Pension to recover a VA over-payment due to VA administrative or veteran error. The federal SNAP regulations make it clear that states cannot count recouped or withheld monies from federal needs-based or non-needs-based programs. SNAP rules allow states to ONLY count  for SNAP the monies that are recouped from a TAFDC or general assistance (such as EAEDC) overpayment and only when the state agency makes a determination of fraud or intentional program violation or sanction on the TAFDC or General Assistance. This rule does NOT apply to SSI, federal VA Pensions or other federal or state benefits.

MLRI, Harvard Legal Aid, Veterans Legal Services and the Disability Law Center wrote to DTA, EOHHS and the Department of Veterans Services on 11/7/14 raising concerns about this DTA practice, with examples of two veterans impacted. (See attached 11/7/14 letter). We are concerned that DTA is using computer PARIS VA match system incorrectly and/or that the VA is not accurately reporting net VA Pension income back to DTA. This error may also be happening in cases of SSI recoupment of income.

PLEASE flag any cases where you see SNAP benefits lower than they should be and where DTA is counting withheld or recouped VA Pension or SSI income. We are optimistic we can get a favorable resolution to this and get SNAP benefits restored for veterans. However, we are very concerned that DTA has been engaging in a number of data matches for many months, where the third party data is inaccurate or incomplete and the SNAP recipient does not know how to deal with it, or just gets discouraged and drops their SNAP benefits. Please check the SNAP math, flag these cases and let us know of other incorrect data match situations.

Please ALSO track any SNAP cases involving DTA counting "Veterans Aid and Attendance" benefits, provided to elderly/disabled veterans or their spouses, widows, widowers to enable them to stay in the home. This VA&A income should also be non-countable for SNAP when provide to the veteran or spouse for attendant care or medical related expenses

NEXT Boston SNAP Coalition meeting, Tuesday December 2nd.  NO meeting Thanksgiving week!

Western Mass Coalition Meeting, December 10th.

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