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DTA COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ on food assistance (SNAP) and economic assistance (TAFDC, EAEDC) from the Department of Transitional Assistance related to the coronavirus (COVID-19).​

This information may be updated frequently. Please check back regularly for updates.

Table of Contents

General

1. I recently lost my job or my hours were significantly reduced due to COVID-19. Can I apply for SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits or economic assistance (TAFDC, EAEDC)?

Yes. To learn how to apply and find out if you are eligible, please visit the SNAP and Economic Assistance FAQs below.

2. My employer has shut down temporarily because an employee is sick and we have been asked to isolate or quarantine as a result of COVID-19. Can I get DTA benefits?

You might be eligible for DTA benefits. To learn how to apply and find out if you are eligible, please visit the SNAP and Economic Assistance FAQs below.

3. I am receiving unemployment insurance benefits. Am I eligible for assistance from DTA?

You may be eligible for DTA benefits. When determining eligibility for DTA programs, unemployment insurance benefits are counted as income, except for Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) and Mixed Earner Unemployment Compensation (MEUC) benefits. You do not need to let DTA know if you receive these extra federal unemployment benefits.

4. I just got money from the federal government as a recovery rebate (stimulus checks). Will this affect my DTA benefits?

No. None of the following COVID relief individual rebates are considered countable income for SNAP, TAFDC and EAEDC:

  • American Rescue Plan (March 2021) COVID relief payments of $1,400 for eligible adults and $1,400 for each eligible dependent/child
  • Consolidated Appropriations Act (December 2020) COVID relief payments of $600 for each eligible adult and child
  • CARES Act (March 2020) COVID relief payments of $1,200 for eligible adults and $500 for each child

You do not need to let DTA know if you received these.

5. I currently get DTA benefits. If the COVID-19 pandemic continues, will DTA continue to issue benefits?

Yes. Benefits will continue normally. If you have lost your job or have reduced hours, you may be eligible for an increase in your benefits. Learn how you can easily tell DTA about any changes to your circumstances, like job status or household.

6. How do I check my EBT card balance?

Check the available balance on your EBT card by:

  • Downloading the DTA Connect Mobile App,
  • Calling the automated DTA Assistance Line at (877) 382-2363, or
  • Calling the EBT Customer Service number (800) 997-2555 (which is also on the back of your EBT card).

7. If DTA offices are closed, how can I get an EBT card?

DTA is mailing all EBT cards.

If you are a new applicant, DTA will mail you an EBT card.

If you lost your card, you can request a replacement by:

  • Visiting DTAConnect.com or the DTA Connect mobile app.
  • Calling the DTA Assistance Line at (877) 382-2363 and using the automated system to request a new card.

You can track when the card is expected to arrive on DTA Connect. NOTE: requesting a new EBT card will deactivate your old one.

8. I have an appeal hearing scheduled, but DTA offices are closed. Will I still have it?

Yes, you will still have your appeal hearing at the same date and time. All hearings will be conducted over the phone. 

If you need to reschedule or have any other questions about your appeal, call the Hearings Division at (617) 348-5321.

9. My child used to get free school meals, but now they are learning remotely . How can I get school meals?

Call the Project Bread FoodSource Hotline at 800-645-8333 (TTY: 1-800-377-1292), or visit www.meals4kids.org/meals.

You can also reach out to your local school district for information on meal sites.

10. During these difficult times, how do I contact the DTA Domestic Violence (DV) Unit?

The DTA DV Unit is here by phone to help you. To call the DV Specialist in your area, please click here for Englishclick here for Spanish or here for more languages. Call the domestic violence services in your community.

11. I am getting FEMA funeral assistance. Will this affect my DTA benefits?

No. The Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) financial assistance for COVID-19-related funeral expenses incurred after January 20, 2020 is not considered countable income or assets for SNAP, TAFDC and EAEDC. Visit Massachusetts Emergency Management Administration’s (MEMA) website to learn more about the funeral assistance program.

SNAP

1. How can I find out if I’m eligible for SNAP?

The fastest way to find out if you are eligible is to visit the DTAConnect Screening Tool. You can also apply online at DTAConnect.com or send a paper application.

3. What if I spend all my SNAP benefits before I get benefits again?

Call the Project Bread FoodSource Hotline at 800-645-8333 (TTY: 1-800-377-1292) for other food resources. The hotline is open Monday- Friday: 8am - 7pm and Saturday: 10am - 2pm.

4. Am I going to get more special SNAP benefits?

IMPORTANT: Starting in May 2021, the extra emergency SNAP payments are changing, unless you currently get over $95 a month in extra SNAP:

  • I currently get over $95 in extra SNAP each month: no changes
  • My household receives the maximum SNAP amount for our household size: you will get $95 a month in extra emergency SNAP payments
  • My household does not get the maximum amount for our household size, but we have received less than $95 a month in extra SNAP each month: you will get a total of $95 a month in extra emergency SNAP payments. For example, if you previously received $75 in extra SNAP you will now get $95.

These changes are due to new federal guidance. The extra emergency SNAP payments are issued in response to COVID-19, and are available in the beginning of the month. In order to receive this additional benefit, you must have been actively receiving DTA benefits in the month before. Example: to receive the May benefit, you must have been receiving benefits in April.

Governor Baker’s modified declaration of a public health emergency allows Massachusetts to continue providing these benefits after June 2021. These temporary benefits will continue as long as there is a state and federal emergency declaration. 

You will still receive your normal benefit amount on your normal issuance day. You will also receive the difference between what your normal issuance amount is and the maximum amount for your household size. If this amount is less than $95, you will receive $95.

Example 1:
Brenda-Lee is a household of 1 and gets $144 a month in regular SNAP. The maximum monthly amount for a household of 1 is $234.

$234 - $144 = $90. Brenda-Lee will receive $95 in extra SNAP.

Example 2:
Dan lives in a SNAP household of 3 and gets $616 a month in regular SNAP. The maximum monthly amount for a household of 3 is $616.

$616 - $616 = 0. Dan’s household will get $95 in extra SNAP.

Example 3:
Nancy lives in a SNAP household of 5 and gets $750 a month in regular SNAP. The maximum monthly amount for a household of 5 is $929.

$929 - $750 = $179. Nancy’s household will get $179 in extra SNAP.

5. Are my regular, monthly SNAP benefits going to increase?

The federal government increased SNAP benefits by 15% from January 2021 through September 2021. The first week of each month, you will get a payment equal to the increase for the prior month’s regular SNAP amount. For example: in February, recipients will receive the increase for their January benefits.  

You will see the 15% increase payments with the special SNAP payment that is available the first week of each month (see question #4 above),
Learn more.

6. My family member is quarantined at home. Can I food shop for them with their EBT card?

Any person included in your SNAP case can use your EBT card without telling DTA, as long as they have the PIN. Outside of your household members, only share your EBT card and PIN with a trusted family member or friend. If a family member or friend is going to shop for you regularly, you must give DTA signed, written permission telling us who will be shopping for you. You can submit this through the DTAConnect mobile appby fax, or by mail.

7. Can I use my SNAP benefits to buy groceries online?

Yes, you can use your SNAP benefits to buy food online from Walmart, ALDI and Amazon.

8. My SNAP interim report/recertification is coming up, but DTA has not processed my paperwork yet. Will I lose my benefits?

SNAP interim reports and recertifications due in March, April, May and June  2020 was automatically extended.

If you have a SNAP only case (do not get TAFDC or EAEDC) that is due to recertify between November 30, 2020 and January 13, 2021 and meet certain criteria, your certification period may have been extended. If your certification period was extended, a text message was sent to the most recent phone number we have on file. Also, you can  check DTA Connect and the mail for a notice from DTA to see if your certification period has been extended.

If you have a SNAP only cases (do not get TAFDC or EAEDC) and  have an interim report due between November 30, 2020 and June 30, 2021, you will not have to complete your interim report to maintain your SNAP benefits. You will receive a notice in the mail informing you that your interim report has been waived.

DTA will notify you if you have a SNAP interim report or recertification that must be completed to continue receiving benefits. You will receive these forms in the mail or can complete an interim report or recertification online at DTAConnect.com.

9. Where can I find tips on how to stay active while I am working at home or guidelines on ways to freeze food?

DTAs SNAP Nutrition Education website has information and tips on how to stay active and healthy eating.

10. Can I still use Healthy Incentive Program (HIP) benefits?

Yes, you can use HIP benefits at participating retailers near you. You can find available HIP retailers on DTAFinder.com , which is updated with the latest information. 

Note: HIP is available at 2021 winter markets. Individuals and households can use HIP this winter through buying fruits and vegetables at HIP locations across the Commonwealth.

Economic Assistance

1. If DTA offices are closed, how can I apply for TAFDC or EAEDC (cash benefits)?

You can apply for TAFDC and EAEDC on DTAConnect.com. You can also call your local DTA office to complete an EAEDC and TAFDC application over the phone.

2. How can I find out if I’m eligible for TAFDC or EAEDC?

Find out if you may be eligible for TAFDC here and EAEDC here.

3. Will I get more TAFDC or EAEDC benefits?

The Fiscal Year 2021 budget increases TAFDC and EAEDC benefits by 10%. You should see this increase in your January 2021 benefits. See the new benefit amounts.

4. Do I need to see my doctor to verify my disability?

If you are currently getting EAEDC because of a disability and your disability reevaluation date is soon, you do not need to take any action at this time. If you are exempt from the TAFDC work program requirement because of a disability, you also do not need to take any action at this time.

5. Will there be a clothing allowance this year?

Yes. If you are eligible to receive TAFDC benefits in September and have an eligible child under age 19, you will receive $350 per eligible child in the end of August. If you start to receive TAFDC during the month of September and have an eligible child, you will receive your childs clothing allowance at a later date.
 
Check your EBT card balance or bank account if you signed up for direct deposit. See General section above for ways to check your EBT card balance. If you have a bank account you can ask your DTA case manager to sign up for direct deposit so your benefits go directly into your bank account.

Employment Services

1. What if I have a work program requirement and I can’t participate in my TAFDC Employment Service Program or SNAP Employment & Training Program?

DTA has temporarily suspended certain work program requirements. You do not have to tell DTA at this time if you can’t participate. If your program is moving classes online, they will tell you. DTA encourages you to continue to participate virtually in our TAFDC employment programs and SNAP employment and training programs.

While this temporary exemption from work program requirements remains in effect, DTA will not count months towards your 24-month time limit on TAFDC benefits.

2. If I can’t participate in my employment service program and my child is enrolled in subsidized childcare, will my child still be eligible for care once all programs reopen?

Yes. The temporary closures of all child care programs and the temporary suspension of work program requirements will not impact eligibility for child care.

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