You are here

What if DTA questions my income or my living expenses?

Produced by Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Reviewed March 2023

Many low-income households have living costs that exceed their income. Households often borrow from family members or friends, run up credit cards, or have unpaid bills that lead to a utility shut off or eviction. None of this is fraudulent activity; it is how most households survive tough times.

If DTA thinks your income is too low to meet your rent or other costs when you apply for SNAP, a DTA worker may call and ask you questions about how you are getting by. It is very important that you answer DTA’s questions truthfully.

These are typical situations that DTA should not consider questionable:

  • If you borrow money from friends or relatives or borrow against your credit card to pay your expenses, that is not questionable. Loans are not countable income. See What income is not counted?
  • If you get cash contributions for living expenses from persons who are not legally obligated to support you, that is also not questionable and, in most cases, that is not countable income. That could be a grandparent, aunt, uncle, neighbor who is just helping you out. See Does DTA count gifts or contributions?

However, if you get cash contributions money from legally responsible persons for your living expenses, such as child support for your children or alimony from a spouse, that is countable income.

DTA should not ask for proofs unless the information you provide is deemed “questionable.” See What if DTA does not accept the proofs I sent them?  However, if your shelter costs or other expenses continue to exceed your income at the point of your SNAP recertification, DTA will likely ask you for more proof. That can include documents that show you are behind in your rent or utilities, or a statement from people you are borrowing money from.



Show DTA Policy Guidance

Find Legal Aid

You may be able to get free legal help from your local legal aid program. Or email a question about your own legal problem to a lawyer.

Ask a Law Librarian

If it's
9am - 12pm and 1pm - 4pm