What if DTA makes a mistake and owes me money?

Produced by Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Reviewed March 2023

If DTA gives you less SNAP benefits than you are supposed to get, the mistake is called an underpayment or “under-issuance.” You might get underpaid because DTA fails to act on information you gave them, such as:

  • You report a drop in your income, the addition of a new member to your household, or higher shelter costs that reduce your countable income, or
  • You are entitled to higher deductions because you report a disability or turn age 60, or
  • The Social Security Administration took your SNAP application and made an error in the information it gave DTA.

DTA must correct any under-issuance that happened during the 12 months before DTA first discovered or was told about the mistake. 106 C.M.R. § 366.520 You can get back SNAP benefits even if you are not on benefits anymore. 106 C.M.R. §§ 366.500, 366.570 For example, if you or an advocate discover a mistake after your benefits have ended, you can still ask DTA for the underpaid benefits.


Martha Jones reported her change of address in July including paying higher rent. DTA never acted on the information. Martha’s case closed in December but she would have received $75 more per month in SNAP benefits from August through December. DTA owes her $375 in retroactive SNAP.

If you are owed back SNAP benefits, you can take the following steps:

  • Send a letter to DTA requesting an underpayment correction (keep a copy of this letter).
  • Call the DTA Assistance Line at 877- 382- 2363 and ask a DTA worker about your request for an underpayment.

If DTA approves your request for an underpayment, they will issue you the underpayment as a "related benefit." The SNAP regulations require DTA to tell you the amount of the underpayment they will be giving you, how they calculated the amount (including any amounts DTA keeps to offset benefits you may owe), and your right to an appeal. 106 C.M.R. § 366.530.  DTA notices issuing an underpayment are called a “Related Benefit Notice” and do not include this level of information. You should call the DTA Assistance Line to ask for this information.

If DTA denies your request for an under payment, they must send you a written notice. If they do not send you a written notice, you can ask for one.

You have a right to appeal any denial of a correction of an underpayment as well as appeal the amount DTA pays you. You have 90 days from the date of the underpayment denial notice from DTA to appeal. 106 C.M.R. § 366.530106 C.M.R. §367.100.  See How do I file an appeal to get a fair hearing?

DTA can offset any overpayments on your case with the amount of an underpayment. DTA cannot offset an overpayment with a related benefit that is applied to your case as a result of a change you report (for example, a supplemental payment for the current month). They can only offset an overpayment with SNAP that is issued to correct a past under issuance. If DTA takes a related SNAP benefit and applies it towards an overpayment, contact MLRI at [email protected].

DTA Online Guide: See Appendix G for links to the DTA’s BEACON Online Guide for this section.


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