If you are getting SNAP, DTA can pay itself back by:
- Not paying you for an underpayment you are owed. See What if DTA makes a mistake and owes me money? This is called “offsetting.”
- For Agency Error or Unintentional Program Violations, recouping 10% or $10 of your monthly SNAP, whichever is greater. 106 C.M.R. § 367.495(G)
- For Intentional Program Violation overpayments, recouping 20% or $20 of your monthly SNAP, whichever is greater. 106 C.M.R. § 367.500(B)(2)
Before reducing your benefits, DTA has to send you a notice telling you they are reducing your SNAP because they are paying back a SNAP overpayment. DTA may also send you a notice called a Repayment Agreement. You do not have to pay more than what DTA will take out of your SNAP and you do not have to sign the Repayment Agreement. However, if you go off SNAP you will need to comply with a Repayment Agreement in order to avoid DTA sending your case to the Treasury Department for federal tax or benefit offset. See How does DTA collect overpayments if I am not getting SNAP?
You have the right to advance notice and an opportunity for a hearing before your benefits are reduced. 106 C.M.R. §§ 364.870, 364.880, 366.200. DTA may say you cannot challenge the overpayment at this point, so if you think the overpayment did not happen or the amount is not correct, you should request a hearing when you first get the Notice of Overpayment and should not wait to receive notice of the reduction before asking for a hearing. You have 90 days from date of the DTA action to request a fair hearing. See What are my rights if DTA denies, cuts or stops my SNAP?"
- DTA can take an underpayment you are owed to offset an overpayment. But, DTA should only take a retroactive payment that makes up for a past mistake. It should not take any supplemental payments you get when you report a change. They should only take benefits from a prior month that you were entitled to but didn’t receive. Contact MLRI if you are worried that this happened to you.
- Check with an advocate if are you are getting SNAP and DTA uses any means other than reducing current benefits to collect an overpayment. Also check with an advocate if collection will cause your family hardship.
- A fair hearing request should stop collection of the overpayment until the hearing officer makes a decision. 7 C.F.R. § 273.18(e)(6). Contact an advocate if DTA tries to collect the overpayment while your hearing request is pending. DTA cannot take money for a SNAP overpayment out of your TAFDC or EAEDC. See M.G.L. c. 118, § 10, 7 C.F.R. § 273.18(g)(1)(v).