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How do I apply for SNAP benefits?

Produced by Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Reviewed March 2023

You have the right to apply for benefits - whether or not DTA thinks you are eligible. This is a fundamental right of all Massachusetts residents and the SNAP rules require DTA to encourage individuals who inquire about SNAP to apply. 106 C.M.R. § 361.130. DTA still needs to determine if you are eligible, but no one should discourage you from filing a SNAP application.

There is no wrong door!

You can:

  • Apply online:
    • through DTAConnect.com on a computer or from a smartphone. You do not need to create an account or have an email address!
  • Apply by phone:
    • Call the DTA Assistance Line at (877) 382-2363 and press #7 .
    • Persons age 60 or older can call the Senior Assistance Office at (833) 712-8027. See What is the Senior Assistance Office?
  • Apply through your healthcare application or renewal:
    • When you apply for or renew your MassHealth or Medicare Savings Program (MSP) coverage, you can check the “apply for SNAP” checkbox, which is sent to DTA for follow up.
  • Apply in person at any local DTA office:
  • Mail or fax in a paper application:
    • Paper SNAP applications in multiple languages are available at Mass.gov/SNAP. See What proofs are optional?. If you would rather apply with a paper application than online or by phone, DTA has to mail a paper SNAP application to you the same day you ask for one. 106 C.M.R.§361.140
    • Adults 60+ can fill out a much shorter “SNAP Application for Seniors” Also available at Mass.gov/SNAP
  • Apply through a SNAP outreach provider, by calling:
    • The Project Bread Food Source Hotline at 1-800-645-8333 
    • Call a local SNAP Outreach Provider, list available here: Mass.gov/snap-outreach. The local Councils on Aging, as well as the Food Bank of Western MA and Greater Boston Food Bank do SNAP enrollment. 

 See SNAP application rights: 106 C.M.R. § 361.140

Your right to apply with minimal information.

You have the right to file a SNAP application with just your basic information - your name, address, signature and the date. 106 C.M.R. §361.130. You will still need to give DTA more information later, but don’t delay filing a SNAP application because you don’t have all the information or proofs.

If you already have a working EBT card

The SNAP application asks if you already have a Massachusetts EBT card (from past receipt of SNAP). If you have one with your name on it that works, you can still use it once your SNAP case is approved. If you tell DTA you do not have an EBT card, DTA will mail you a card, or you can go to the local DTA Office to pick one up. See What is an EBT card, how do I use SNAP benefits, and where can I shop?.

Signing the application

Your electronic, ink or verbal signature is your agreement that the information you provide to DTA is truthful and accurate. When you sign the application, you agree that you understand your rights and responsibilities to follow the rules, including your obligation to report changes when required. 

Your right to retroactive SNAP benefits

If you are approved for SNAP within 30 days of when you apply, you should get benefits paid back to the date DTA received your signed application. 106 C.M.R. § 361.080. For example, this would be the date you applied by phone or online, or the date DTA received your SNAP checkbox application from MassHealth (which is typically overnight).

Cash assistance applications while applying for SNAP

If you are applying for DTA's cash assistance benefits, (TAFDC or EAEDC), DTA must treat your application for cash as an application for SNAP. You do not need to file a separate application or have a separate DTA interview. 106 C.M.R. § 361.160. DTA must also process your SNAP benefits, even is they decide you are not eligible for cash assistance. 106 C.M.R. § 365.120(A)(1)(A)(2)

If you apply for SNAP and you might be eligible for cash, the DTA SNAP case worker is supposed to connect you to a cash case worker who should help you apply for cash benefits. For example, you might be eligible for EAEDC if you have no income and are 65 or older or disabled. You might be eligible for TAFDC if you have no or very low income and are pregnant or have children. DTA should ask you if you want to apply for these benefits.

Please contact MLRI at [email protected] if DTA did not start a SNAP application for you on the same day that you applied for cash, or if you were denied cash benefits but DTA did not process SNAP benefits for you from your cash application. 

See MLRI's TAFDC and EAEDC Advocacy Guides for more on these cash benefits.


DTA Online Guide: See Appendix G for DTA’s BEACON 5 Online Guide for this section.  

MassHealth Eligibility Operations Memos: EOM 2021-10 and EOM 2021-12 announcing the addition of the SNAP gap checkbox and SNAP signature sections to MassHealth and Medicare Savings Program applications, available here.  And MassHealth instructions on implementing the SNAP checkbox onto the HIX MassHealth Connector online application, implemented July 27, 2022. HIX System Release Update #25 available here.

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