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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 am receiving money from the federal government via the Child Tax Credit. Will this affect my DTA benefits?

No. The monthly $300 per kid (age 5 and younger) and $250 per kid (age 6 to 17) is not countable for DTA benefits. You do not have to let DTA know if you received these.

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. DTA offices are open for limited in-person services. How can I get an EBT card?

Learn all the ways you can get an EBT card.

8. 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.

9. 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 DTA Connect Screening Tool. You can also apply online at DTAConnect.com, over the phone via the DTA Assistance Line (877-382-2363 – press 7) or send a paper application. If you need to access a phone or the internet to apply, you can visit a local DTA office to use our phone, scanners and kiosks.

2. 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 $160 a month in regular SNAP. The maximum monthly amount for a household of 1 is $250.

$250 - $160 = $90. Brenda-Lee will receive $95 in extra SNAP.

Example 2:

Dan lives in a SNAP household of 3 and gets $658 a month in regular SNAP. The maximum monthly amount for a household of 3 is $658.

$658 - $658 = 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 $992.

$992 - $750 = $242. Nancy’s household will get $242 in extra SNAP.

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

The federal government has announced an annual cost of living increase for SNAP benefits which will increase monthly SNAP benefit amounts for most households beginning October 1, 2021. You will get a Notice of Change to Federal SNAP Benefits Amounts in the mail and on DTA Connect. This notice will give you more information about what this increase means for you and your family. If your benefits do go up, you will see the increase in your regular SNAP issuance beginning with your October 2021 benefits.

This new increase will replace the 15% increase that has been in effect since January 2021 and expires on September 30, 2021.

Important note: Due to this cost of living increase to your regular monthly SNAP benefits, you will see a decrease in the special SNAP payment amount that is available to you in the first week of each month (see question #3 above).

 

4. 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.

5. 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.

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

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

7. Do I have to complete my SNAP interim report/recertification during COVID-19?

SNAP only cases do not have to complete an interim report at this time. If you also receive TAFDC or EAEDC, you will need to complete an interim report.   

During the COVID-19 pandemic, SNAP recertifications were previously extended for some households. Currently, there are no extensions to recertification periods.   

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 they can be completed online at DTAConnect.com.

8. 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.

9. 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. 

Economic Assistance

1. 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. If you need to access a phone or the internet to apply, you can visit a local DTA office to use our phone, scanners and kiosks.

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 2022 budget increases TAFDC and EAEDC benefit amounts. You will see this increase starting with your August 2021 benefits. See the new benefit amounts.

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

If you are applying for EAEDC because you have a disability, we will send you a form that your medical provider will need to fill out. You need to return this form to us. If you are currently getting EAEDC because of a disability we will send you this form when your case is reviewed, and you will need to return it to complete your review. If you are exempt from the TAFDC work program requirement because of a disability, you do not need to provide anything from a doctor 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

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

While you are receiving benefits from DTA you have access to many free TAFDC employment programs and SNAP employment and training programs that can help you get the job you want. Whether you need help with your resume or interview skills or you want to get a certificate through a training program, DTA can help connect you with an option that fits you and your family’s needs.

If you are required to participate in programing but are unable to do so because you are having difficulty finding childcare, you have a family crisis or something else is happening, tell your worker what is going on. DTA staff will work with you to find an option that works for you and your family.

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