How much time do I have to ask for a fair hearing and will my benefits continue?

We are in the process of updating the SNAP Advocacy Guide, so some of the information is no longer current.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

You can file an appeal 90 days from the date on your notice to get your appeal request to the Division of Hearings. 106 C.M.R. § 343.140(B)(1).

You can file an appeal 120 days from:

  • The date of your application when DTA failed to act on the application
  • The date DTA received a request from you and they failed to act (e.g. you asked DTA to increase your benefits because your expenses changed and DTA takes no action).
  • The date of the action DTA took when they failed to send you a notice about the action.

106 C.M.R. § 343.140(B)(2).

You can appeal a denial of correction of an underpayment within 90 days of the date of the denial. DTA should deny your request in writing. See What if DTA makes a mistake and owes me money?  You can appeal this denial even though the underpayment itself may have happened more than 90 days ago. 106 C.M.R. § 367.100.

You can ask for a hearing any time during your certification period to challenge the amount of your benefits or whenever you discover an error. 106 C.M.R. § 367.100. See What if DTA makes a mistake and owes me money?

Continuing benefits pending the hearing

If your benefits are being cut off or reduced, you can keep your benefits while you are waiting for a hearing decision by making sure that the Division of Hearings timely receives your fair hearing (appeal) request. Getting benefits while you are waiting for the hearing decision is called “aid pending appeal.”

If you get the Division of Hearings your appeal request either before the effective date of the action OR within 10 days of the date the notice is mailed (whichever is later) then you “appealed timely.” If you appeal timely, your SNAP benefits will continue until the hearing officer makes a decision or until your certification period ends, whichever is first. 106 C.M.R. § 343.250, 106 C.M.R. §§ 366.220, 367.275. DTA can recover benefits you got while you were waiting for a hearing if you lose. 106 C.M.R. § 343.250(C). See Part 7 for information about overpayments.
Note, you are not eligible for SNAP benefits pending appeal if you are terminated at the end of your certification period. 106 C.M.R. § 366.200. You can still appeal, but your benefits will stop. If you do not appeal timely or your certification period ends, you can always re-apply for SNAP while waiting for your hearing.

Example:

Judy's SNAP is put on her EBT card on the 11th of each month. She is certified for one year. She gets a notice from DTA dated January 25 that says her SNAP benefits will be terminated on February 10 (the day before her next benefits are due). Judy disagrees with this decision and decides to appeal. The Division of Hearings must receive her appeal request by February 9, the day before the termination is to take place, for Judy to continue to get SNAP while waiting for the hearing to happen and for the hearing officer to make a decision.
She can still request a hearing after February 9 (until April 24) but her benefits will not continue while she is waiting for the hearing decision. If her certification period ends while she is waiting for a decision her SNAP will stop. In either situation, she can reapply for SNAP while waiting for the appeal to be resolved!

 

Advocacy Reminders

  • It always a good idea to appeal any denial, termination, or reduction in benefits you disagree with promptly. The appeal form asks if you do not want your benefits to continue while you wait for a hearing decision. It’s usually a good idea to not to choose this option. If you have questions about appeals contact a legal advocate. See Appendix C for a copy of the appeal form.
  • 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.

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