Appeal Rights

We are in the process of updating the SNAP Advocacy Guide, so some of the information is no longer current.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

What are my rights if DTA denies, cuts or stops my SNAP?

If DTA denies your SNAP benefits or stops or lowers your benefits, you can ask for a fair hearing. A fair hearing, or an “appeal”, is a formal meeting in person at the local DTA office or by phone. A hearing officer runs the hearing and decides who is right. 106 C.M.R. §§ 367.375, 343.110. To ask for a hearing you file something called an “appeal” with DTA. You can ask for a hearing to challenge any DTA decision or action you disagree with. 106 C.M.R. §§ 367.125, 343.230.

Most DTA notices have an appeal form on the back which you can use to request a hearing. See How do I file an appeal to get a fair hearing? for more on how to file an appeal and Appendix C for a copy of the DTA “Request for an Appeal” form.

You can appeal most actions DTA takes. For example, you can appeal if:

  • DTA denies your application or recertification
  • DTA lowers your SNAP and you think it is wrong
  • DTA denies or ignores a request to correct a SNAP underpayment (under-issuance)
  • DTA does not increase your SNAP (for example, when your income goes down or someone has moved into your household).
  • DTA denies or ignores your request to accommodate a disability. See What if a disability makes it hard for me to apply or comply with DTA rules?.
  • DTA says you have been denied but never sends you written notice.
  • DTA says you were overpaid SNAP benefits

 

See 106 C.M.R. § 343.230.

Cuts or Terminations

In most situations, DTA must give you at least 10 days advance notice before your benefits are stopped or reduced. The 10 days start from the date that the notice is mailed. Save any notices you get from DTA and the envelopes the notices come in. You may need the postmark on the envelope to show when the notice was sent. Often the date on the notice itself is a day before the date the notice is actually mailed. This may not be legal if DTA is reducing or terminating your SNAP. Contact MLRI if your SNAP is reduced or terminated and your envelope has a postmark that is less than 10 days from when your benefits were impacted.

You can ask for a hearing if your benefits are stopped or reduced. See How much time do I have to ask for a fair hearing and will my benefits continue? on whether you can keep your benefits while you are waiting for a hearing decision. 106 C.M.R. §§ 343.230, 367.300. You can also reapply for SNAP while you are waiting for a hearing.

Worker Bad Conduct

You can ask for a hearing if a DTA worker threatens you, makes unreasonable demands that do not follow the rules, violates your privacy, or does not treat you with dignity and respect. 106 C.M.R. § 343.235. You have 120 days to file an appeal from the date of the incident where you allege worker misconduct. 106 C.M.R. § 343.140.

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