Food stamps in Massachusetts are available to low-income families and individuals who need help paying for groceries on a monthly basis. This benefit, which is officially known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), is provided by the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA). SNAP is a federal program, but each state oversees its own operations. With that in mind, beneficiaries must live in Massachusetts and meet local requirements in order to apply.
Once you qualify for the SNAP program in MA, you will receive funds every month that can be used to buy approved food items. In the past, SNAP food stamps were issued in the form of a voucher or check. Currently, benefits are loaded electronically onto an electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card that works much like a debit card. Read below to learn more about the process of submitting an application and using your benefits once you are approved.
Learn About Massachusetts Food Stamps Requirements
Food stamps eligibility in Massachusetts is based on several different factors. To start, your income and resources must fall below a certain level in order for you to qualify. Overall, these SNAP income guidelines vary depending on your family size, as well as certain individual factors that may affect your household. As an example, if you have a disability and pay medical expenses relating to your condition, you may deduct certain expenses and qualify with a higher income. In certain cases, other types of deductions are allowed as well.
The food stamp income guidelines also determine the amount of resources you can have. A resource can include assets such as your bank account, savings bonds and any cash you may have on hand. In most cases, the home you live in does not count as an asset for this program. Furthermore, your vehicle is usually excluded as well, provided that its value does not exceed a certain amount.
Your SNAP eligibility is also based on other factors. For example, you can only meet the food stamp qualifications in Massachusetts if you:
- Are a U.S. citizen or are residing in the U.S. legally.
- Are a resident of Massachusetts.
- Register to work, if required.
- Provide your Social Security number (SSN) and proof of identity.
The work requirements for food stamps typically only apply to petitioners who are between 16 and 59 years of age. There are also special rules for able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWD) who fall within this age range. While certain exceptions apply, SNAP participants within this age range typically have to:
- Accept reasonable employment offers, if currently unemployed.
- Provide employment information requested by the DTA.
- Not reduce their work hours below a certain amount without a legitimate reason.
- Accept job training or referrals from the DTA, if required.
If you receive assistance from certain other government programs already, note that the income and resource limits may be adjusted for your family.
How to Apply for Food Stamps in Massachusetts
If you need help paying for groceries, it is recommended that you apply for food stamps in Massachusetts as soon as you are eligible. In emergency situations, you may be able to qualify for assistance in as little as one week. However, the application and screening process can take up to a month in other situations.
A Massachusetts food stamp application can be submitted online, in person, by fax or through the mail. In order to apply for food stamps online, you will need to create an account with the official state portal. Alternatively, if you wish to apply through a different method, you must obtain a paper application and fill it out thoroughly. To apply for SNAP in person, you may complete your form at the office and submit it the same day.
The food stamp application contains the same information regardless of the method you use to apply. However, it is important to note that there is a special application form for seniors. When filling out an application of any type, you should be prepared to enter details such as:
- The name, date of birth and SSN of each household member.
- Your address and housing type.
- Your household income and resources.
- Your citizenship information.
- Your disability and/or employment status, if applicable.
- The amount of certain household expenses.
After you apply for food stamps in MA, the DTA will contact you for an interview. Most interviews are conducted over the phone or in person at a local DTA office.
During this part of the application process, you will need to verify the information on your application by providing proof of residency, identity, income, resources, deductible expenses and other details. You can prepare by gathering documentation that helps verify this information. Download our free guide to learn more about the application process.
Learn About SNAP Benefits in Massachusetts
Once you are approved for SNAP assistance, you will receive an electronic benefits transfer (EBT) card that works like a debit card. Unlike a debit card, however, you may not use SNAP benefits to withdraw cash or get cash back with a purchase. To use this card, you simply need to present it to a cashier when making a purchase. Most grocery stores, as well as certain farmers’ markets, will accept payments processed by EBT cards.
Massachusetts food stamp benefits can be used to purchase a wide range of items that you need in order to cook healthy food at home. Namely, these funds can help you buy things such as:
- Meat, poultry and fish
- Fruits and veggies
- Most snacks and drinks
- Dairy and eggs
- Bread and cereal
- Seeds and plants
You cannot use SNAP food benefits to buy any non-edible items, nor can these funds be used to purchase alcohol, tobacco, hot food or prepared meals that are meant to be eaten in the store. Furthermore, it is important to note that there are usually limitations for these funds to be used at restaurants. Instead, SNAP benefits are meant to be used on items that you will cook into meals at home. Obtain our free guide if you want to learn more about how to use your SNAP benefits.
Name: Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA)
Phone Number: (877) 382-2363
Address: DTA Document Processing Center, P.O. Box 4406, Taunton, MA 02780
Commissioner: Amy Kershaw
Last Updated: September 29, 2022