How does DTA double-check income?

We are in the process of updating the SNAP Advocacy Guide, so some of the information is no longer current.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

Like all states, DTA uses different computer matches to find unreported income and check other information. If DTA finds out information about your household that they think you did not report, they may contact you for more information. If you were supposed to report income or other information and you failed to do so, you may have an overpayment. It is also possible you could be sanctioned (cut off for a period of time), if a hearing officer decides you intentionally failed to report information. See What if DTA says I committed fraud or an Intentional Program Violation (IPV)?

If you are on "simplified reporting" for SNAP, you are not required to report changes (such as a new job) until your Interim Report or Recertification is due or your household's gross income exceeds the gross income test for your household size. See What is Simplified Reporting and when must I report changes to DTA?

When DTA gets information directly from certain agencies or programs, DTA can act on the information it gets from these sources without contacting you. For example, DTA can act on information automatically if the information is directly from Social Security, the MA Department of Unemployment Assistance, or the MA Department of Children and Families,
 

Example

Tom’s Social Security increases in January each year with a cost-of-living increase. DTA can reduce Tom’s SNAP benefits without talking to Tom in advance. DTA will send Tom a letter that his SNAP benefits have gone down based on the increase in Social Security.

If you are on Simplified Reporting or EDSAP, DTA cannot ask you for verification of other data matches or information that is not directly from the source. DTA can require proof from you if the information is new information (less than 60 days old) and it is information that you would have been required to report.

Example

Jane is approved for SNAP and is on Simplified Reporting. DTA learns through The Work Number (a company that helps large businesses with employee payroll information) that Jane started working at McDonald’s part-time. DTA cannot reduce Jane’s SNAP even if they learn of the wages through The Work because The Work Number data is not “verified upon receipt” and Jane was not required to report the change in her income until the next Interim Report (or if her total gross income is over the gross income test). DTA can ask Jane for more information about this job at her next Interim Report or Recertification.

If DTA asks you to re-verify your residency due to out of state EBT usage, See Can I use my EBT benefits out of state?

DTA can also ask you for verification if the information they get appears to conflict with information you reported to DTA when you first applied or filed your Interim Report or Recertification. This is important because not all data match information is accurate or “real time” (up to date).

Data match information may not be relevant to your SNAP eligibility, and DTA’s action on certain data sources may not comply with federal rules. If you think DTA incorrectly took negative action on your case as a result of a data match, contact MLRI.

DTA Online Guide Sections:

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