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Homeowners Assistance and Housing Programs
Massachusetts – Making Home Affordable options
Making Home Affordable is a federal program designed to cover different homeowners’ hardships and financial situations. Under the program there are various options that can help Massachusetts homeowners in hardship stay in their homes. Depending on the situation Massachusetts homeowners in hardship can apply to lower their monthly payments, lower the interest rate on their home loan or even get principal reduction in some cases.
There are foreclosure alternatives and temporarily help for unemployed homeowners as well.
Here are some of the most used options under Making Home Affordable Program:
- Lower your monthly mortgage payments with Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP)
- Lower your interest rate with Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP)
- Check eligibility for principal reduction with Principal Reduction Alternative SM (PRA)
- Get help if currently unemployed with Home Affordable Unemployment Program (UP)
- Reduce your 2nd mortgage monthly payments with Second Lien Modification Program (2MP)
- Explore your foreclosure alternatives with Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives Program (HAFA)
- FHA Home Affordable Modification Program (FHA-HAMP)
HUD (US Department of Housing and Urban Development) approved housing counselor can be reached at: 888-995-4673 (Hearing impaired: 877-304-9709 TTY) to help you understand your options, prepare your application, and work with your mortgage company.
Food Assistance Programs, Services, and Organizations in Massachusetts
Massachusetts Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or the Food Stamps Program as it is known by the public, is a federal program that provides grants to the States for purpose of reducing the hunger and malnutrition in all eligible households across the nation. SNAP helps provide healthy food to qualifying low-income families with children, elderly or disabled in each State of the USA, including Massachusetts. Learn more about SNAP.
It is important to know that the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is a federal entitlement program funded by U.S. Government grants. Any U.S. Citizen, even some legal alien residents will get free food assistance as long as they meet the SNAP eligibility guidelines. In other words, there is enough Supplemental Nutrition Assistance for every American that qualifies.
In Massachusetts, the SNAP is known as Massachusetts Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and is administered by the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) under Massachusetts Health and Human Services. The Federal Government pays 100% of Massachusetts Food Stamp Benefits with federal grants appropriated for SNAP. The SNAP federal grants also pay a share of the Massachusetts SNAP administrative cost.
According to Massachusetts Health and Human Services, “The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is a nutrition program for families and individuals that meet certain income and resource guidelines. SNAP benefits help you buy nutritious food for your family. You can be working and still qualify for SNAP benefits. If you qualify for SNAP benefits you can use these benefits to purchase food at most grocery stores, convenience stores and pharmacies.”
Who is Eligible for SNAP (Food Stamps) in Massachusetts?
The eligibility rules and benefit amounts in Massachusetts, like in other States, are based on limited income, limited liquid resources, household size, and other requirements, some of them specific to each State. Most eligibility rules are determined by regulations issued by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food and Nutrition Service.
The federal law allows States some flexibility when implementing SNAP on a State level. State agencies can adapt some of the food assistance program rules in order to meet the needs of eligible, low‐income local population.
Massachusetts Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is designed for individuals and families with limited income resources, who compose a household, and purchase and prepare their meals together for home consumption. People living with roommates, people who are temporary unemployed, or people who are homeless can also get food stamps if they meet specific eligibility guidelines.
For the purpose of the Massachusetts SNAP, certain people must be included in on household account even if they purchase and prepare meals separately. Husbands and wives of any household member, their children under age 22 when living together, plus children younger than 18 who are dependents of an adult household member are all considered as a part of one household formation.
In Massachusetts anyone with limited income and resources may apply for food stamps but, in general, to qualify for Massachusetts SNAP (Food Stamp) Benefits you must meet the following basic eligibility requirements:
- Massachusetts Resident – must be a U.S. Citizen or a legal resident with SNAP eligible non-citizen status;
- Work Requirement – unless exempted, each able-bodied household member who is 16 to 60 year old must be registered to work, and accept a suitable employment offer;
- Income Limits – Income limits eligibility depends on the household size and composition. Households with no elderly or disabled individuals must meet both gross (130% of FPL) and net income limits. Households with elderly or disabled individuals must meet only the net income limits (100% of FPL). Households with a pregnant woman or a child under 19 years of age must have a gross income less than 200% of FPL. Gross income includes wages, salaries, commissions, dividends, child support, self-employment income, unemployment compensation, social security benefits and other.
See the table for Maximum Monthly Income (measured as percentage of federal poverty level – FPL) allowable for SNAP Benefits Eligibility in State of Massachusetts, as per household size:Oct. 1, 2015 through Sept. 30, 2016 USDA FNS SNAP Max Income
|Household Size||Gross Monthly Income|
200 % of poverty level
|Gross Monthly Income|
130 % of poverty level
|Net Monthly Income
100 % of poverty level
|Each additional member||+$694||+$451||+$347|
Source: USDA, SNAP Income Eligibility Standards
Massachusetts SNAP Program has special rules for elderly (ages 60 or older) or disabled applicants and beneficiaries. Massachusetts households with disabled or elderly members may qualify for food stamp benefits regardless of the amount of gross income, but they must have liquid assets of $3,250 or less, when their gross incomes is over 200% of the poverty line.
Some Massachusetts residents may be automatically or so called categorically eligible for Food Stamps if they already participate in other means tested assistance programs. Getting benefits from the Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children (TAFDC) or receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) can make the applicant for SNAP Benefits categorically eligible, thus bypassing the income eligibility and asset eligibility rules. Under the federal SNAP regulations, States do have to assign a gross income limit of 200% of the federal poverty line (FPL) or less in order to use any federal grant funded benefit that can make Food Assistance applicants eligible.
Quick Eligibility Check
Use this Pre-Screening Tool to find out if you may be eligible to get Massachusetts SNAP Benefits (Food Stamps).
The screening allows interested in getting Massachusetts food stamps to provide some basic information and determine if they are potentially eligible for benefits.
Although you will be notified immediately on the screen if you qualify after completing the questionnaire you still have to make an application at your local Massachusetts DTA office. Even if you are unsure whether you qualify you still may be eligible for SNAP Benefits and you should still apply. DTA is the agency in Massachusetts that can make final determination regarding your SNAP application in this state and grant you benefits.
What are Maximum Massachusetts SNAP (Food Stamps) Benefits?
If approved, the Massachusetts SNAP benefit amounts depend on the household size and the amount of the their net income. USDA has maximum SNAP benefit limits per month per household size. Check below what are the maximum food stamp assistance monetary amounts a household can get. The dollar amounts of the food stamp benefits are called allotments.Oct. 1, 2015 - Sept. 30, 2016 USDA Max SNAP Allotments
|Household Size||Maximum Food Assistance Monthly Allotment
|Each additional member||$146|
Source: USDA, SNAP Maximum Allotments
How to Apply for SNAP Benefits (Food Stamps) in Massachusetts?
In Massachusetts, applicants for SNAP can start by filling in the application online and print it. If you do not have all the information that is needed to complete the SNAP application, provide as much as you can – but you must include your name, social security number, and your signature for DTA to accept it. Mail your SNAP Application to:
DTA Document Processing Center
P.O. Box 4406
Taunton, MA 02781-0420,
or turn your application into the local Massachussetts DTA office where you live.
Follow this link to do local DTA office search or call: 1-877-382-2363
If you are first time SNAP applicant, you can apply online by visiting mass.gov Virtual Gateway Self Service.
The SNAP application for seniors has been streamlined. The form is shorter and easier for seniors. It is only two pages.
Before determining your SNAP eligibility a DTA case worker will have to process the application and interview you.
After your application is submitted you will be contacted to complete a SNAP eligibility interview.
At the interview, you may need to provide some supporting documents that would help DTA case worker determine your eligibility.
Within 30 days of the interview, if eligible, you will receive a notice stating how much food assistance benefit and for how long your household is eligible for before a review of the case is due.
The SNAP benefit amount depends on the household size and its net income – that is all countable income minus all allowable deductions.
If Massachusetts DTA finds you eligible for SNAP benefits, you will be entitled to receive food stamps from the date your signed application is received.
Massachusetts SNAP Benefits Approval, Rules, Proofs Required
The DTA has to verify provided information and interview you before determining if the household is eligible for SNAP Benefits.
DTA has a list of what you need to have at the interview:
- Proof of Identity – Driver’s license, birth certificate or other proof of your identity.
- Proof of Massachusetts Residence – Current rent receipt, lease, mortgage statement, tax document, homeowner’s insurance or utility bills. If you are homeless, a motor vehicle registration, statement from a shelter, from the person you are staying with temporarily, or a verbal or written confirmation from someone we can contact who knows your situation.
- Earned Income – Pay stubs or written statement from employer on letterhead showing income before taxes for the past four weeks.
- Other Income – Most recent copy of Social Security check or copy of award letter, proof of unemployment compensation, workers’ compensation, pension, child support or alimony;
- Self-Employment – Most recent federal tax return (Schedule C Form) or last three months of business records.
- Rental Income – If you get paid by someone who rents a room or apartment from you, a copy of the lease agreement or statement from your tenant showing the amount of rent paid;
- Non-citizen Status – For all non-US citizens applying for SNAP benefits, alien registration card or other immigration document.
- Child Support Payments – If you make child support payments to someone not living with you, show proof of the legal obligation to make the payment, such as a court order, tax returns showing legally obligated support payments, verification of withholding from unemployment compensation, and the amount paid.
- Housing Costs – rent receipt or mortgage statement, real estate taxes or homeowners’ insurance bill.
- Utilities – home heating oil, gas, electricity, telephone (including cell phones), or other utility expenses such as garbage disposal, wood or coal.
- Care Expenses – Child Care or Adult Dependent Care Expenses in-home or out-of-home care.
- Medical Expenses – If you or anyone in your household is age 60 or older or has a certified disability, out of- pocket medical expenses must be verified with receipts for co-payments or premiums on health insurance, or receipts for dentures, eyeglasses, hearing aids, hearing aid batteries, prescription medications, doctor-prescribed pain relievers or over-the-counter drugs, and transportation to get to and from medical services.
Additional information and proof may be required depending upon your situation. In case you are not able to provide all the information during the SNAP application interview, you will be given time to provide the required proof.
Applicants for SNAP benefits in Massachusetts should get a response within 30 days from the date they submitted their application to the local DTA office. When start getting food stamps benefits, households must report any changes of their situation in a set period of time (in Massachusetts – simplified reporting and 12-month certification) in order to assure their participation in the Massachusetts Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
Under the simplified reporting option, households are required to report changes in income between certification and scheduled reporting periods when total countable income rises above 130% of the poverty level or when work hours change for able‐bodied adults without dependents.
SNAP regulations require all non‐exempt household members to comply with work requirements. Work requirements include registering for work, not voluntarily quitting a job, and accepting a suitable employment offer for all SNAP benefit recipients age 16 through 59 if they are not exempt. As per federal SNAP guidelines, individuals who fail to comply with SNAP work requirements without good cause are ineligible for program benefits and disqualified from SNAP for certain periods of time, depending on how many prior instances of non‐compliance there have been.
The law limits the SNAP benefits to 3 months in a 3-year period for all able-bodied adults between the ages of 18 through 49 without dependents, who are not working or participating in a work program for at least 20 hours each week.
As part of the SNAP federal grant assistance requirements, each State has to offer employment and training (E&T) program to its SNAP benefits recipients. Participants in such programs, where available, can get adult education, vocational training, job skills training for specific jobs, and work experience via short-term unpaid work assignments. The main goal of the work requirement is to help the SNAP benefits recipients get jobs, reduce or eliminate their dependency on the government benefits. Call 1-800-249-2007 if you want to find more about Massachusetts Employment and Training Program.
Approved! When and How Do I Get the SNAP Benefits?
Massachusetts Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program provides the benefits via the Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) system. The monetary benefits of the Massachusetts SNAP benefits are transferred to the accounts of qualified beneficiaries and are accessible through an Massachusetts EBT card – the Bay State Access card, which is issued to anyone approved for SNAP. The Massachusetts SNAP Benefits are deposited into the recipients accounts each month following the Benefit Issuance Schedule.
Benefits are made available over the first 14 days of every month, based on the last digit of the recipient’s SSN:
SSN ends in 0 = benefits available on the 1st of the month
SSN ends in 1 = benefits available on the 2nd of the month
SSN ends in 2 = benefits available on the 4th of the month
SSN ends in 3 = benefits available on the 5th of the month
SSN ends in 4 = benefits available on the 7th of the month
SSN ends in 5 = benefits available on the 8th of the month
SSN ends in 6 = benefits available on the 10th of the month
SSN ends in 7 = benefits available on the 11th of the month
SSN ends in 8 = benefits available on the 13th of the month
SSN ends in 9 = benefits available on the 14th of the month
If you have any question regarding your EBT Account or EBT Card call Massachusetts EBT Customer Service: 1-800-997-2555
How and Where to Use the SNAP Benefits?
When approved, SNAP beneficiaries will get Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards. The beneficiaries can use their cards at any Massachusetts SNAP (Food Stamps) grocery stores and farmers’ markets that are authorized by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). With their EBT Card food stamp recipients can buy any food to be eaten at home by people, including baby food, non-alcoholic beverages, and seasonings. Allowed are also seeds and plants to grow food for family’s consumption. Non-grocery items such as cleaning products, pet food, paper products, alcohol, or tobacco are not allowed.
I Need Food Assistance Now. It is an Emergency!
Some households may get Expedited Services – that is getting Food Stamp Benefits within 7 calendar days if your household has less than $150 in monthly gross income and liquid resources (cash, checking or savings accounts) of $100 or less; or your rent/mortgage and utilities are more than your household’s combined monthly income and liquid resources; or a member of your household is a migrant or seasonal farm worker. In order to get expedite assistance, if you qualify for it, provide all required information and proof as soon as possible. Call 1-877-382-2363 for more information on Massachusetts Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.