Does DTA count gifts or contributions?

We are in the process of updating the SNAP Advocacy Guide, so some of the information is no longer current.  In the meantime, you can read or download a pdf of the 2022 guide from www.masslegalservices.org/FoodStampSNAPAdvocacyGuide

Produced by Patricia Baker and Victoria Negus, Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Reviewed January 2020

If you get regular gifts from non-legally responsible friends or relatives (such as your parents if you are over 18, or your aunts and uncles), these gifts do NOT count as income as long as the money is designated for a specific living expense and does not exceed the amount of the expense. Living expenses include but are not limited to: rent, mortgage, fuel, utilities, food, child care, car payments or car insurance, clothing or toiletries, or transportation. 106 CMR §363.230(A). But, unlike loans you plan to repay, DTA may calculate your deductible expenses at a lower amount if the gift lowers the amount you are responsible to pay for shelter, dependent care, or medical costs.

Contributions made for a portion of other basic living needs – such as transportation or toiletries – also do not count (and do not lower your deductible costs).

Example 1

Jill’s rent is $1,200 per month. Jill explains that her Aunt regularly gives her $400 per month toward her rent. DTA does not count the $400 as income, but DTA calculates Jill’s rent at $800/month in determining her SNAP benefits. This reduces her shelter cost deduction and reduces her SNAP.

Example 2

Jeff’s work hours were cut, and his cousin begins giving him $200 per month towards part of his car payment and his car insurance. Jeff needs his car to get to work. Jeff’s rent is $900 per month. DTA does not count the $200 as income, nor do they decrease his shelter costs because the contribution is for Jeff’s car costs and not his rent.

Verifying contributions

DTA policy states that households who get a cash gift from non-legally responsible persons must provide proof of the contribution, including information on who the payments are made to, the amounts, what the payments are intended to cover, and how often the payments are made.

DTA must accept the best evidence available if the person making the contribution is unwilling or unable to make a statement about the gift. See Should DTA help me if I am having a hard time getting proofs?

There are many situations where you may not be able to get this verification. For example:

  • You are concerned that that asking for proof from the friend or relative will cause the person to stop gifting you money.
  • The friend or relative is unwilling to go on record with DTA about the money they give you.

If you cannot get a letter from the person giving you the money – for whatever reason – explain this to DTA in writing. In your statement, you can explain what the payments are for, and how often you get them. If DTA denies or terminates your benefits due to a contribution issue, you can ask to speak to a Supervisor, the DTA Ombuds Office, or file an appeal.

If the money you receive from others is considered a loan, be sure to clarify that you plan to pay back the money with DTA. Loans are non-countable income. 106 C.M.R. §363.230(E). DTA may require verification in the form of a statement signed by the lender and the recipient indicating the payment is a loan and must be repaid. If the loan is recurring, DTA may ask for an affidavit from the loan provider regarding repayment details.

DTA Online Guide Section:  SNAP > Eligibility Requirements > Income > Other Income (Unearned) > Contribution Income

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