SNAP policy allows for the replacement of food lost during a household misfortune, such as a fire, flood, loss of electricity, equipment malfunction (refrigerator or freezer) or other disaster. Replacement is limited to the value of the food lost, not to exceed the total monthly benefit amount. For example, Mary reports that food purchased with her SNAP benefits were destroyed and provides the Statement of Loss/Request for Replacement Food Due to a Household Disaster or Misfortune (SNAP-9B) timely. She indicates that $250 of her benefits were lost from the $300 allotment she receives, you must issue $250 in replacement benefits. You must not determine any alternate amount other than what the client reports, as long as it is less than the monthly allotment.
SNAP clients, including combination cases, may request replacement benefits because of a misfortune that has occurred in their household only or because of a more widespread misfortune that has impacted a town, county, state or region. In the event of a presidential declaration of disaster resulting in the activation of the Disaster-SNAP (D-SNAP) Program, existing SNAP clients affected by the disaster will have SNAP benefits replaced under household misfortune rules. Applicants, however, will be issued benefits under either a (D-SNAP) program if one is activated for the disaster area, or under regular SNAP.
Eligibility Requirements for Household Misfortune
When food purchased with SNAP benefits is destroyed due to a household misfortune or disaster, the household will be eligible for replacement of the actual value of the loss, not to exceed one month's allotment if:
the loss is reported orally or in writing within 10 days of the incident;
the household misfortune is verified.
No replacement should be approved without a signed SNAP-9B on file or other statement from the client. On it, the client must attest to the loss of food purchased with SNAP benefits, include the reason for the replacement request and sign under the penalties of perjury.
Hilda’s house was impacted by a severe flooding on December 2 and she lost food purchased with SNAP benefits. To be eligible for replacement SNAP benefits, Hilda must report the loss within 10 days and must return the SNAP-9B within 10 days of her report. Hilda has until December 12 to report a loss of benefits. If she reported the loss on December 12, she would have until December 22 to return the SNAP-9B.
The loss of food due to household misfortune requires verification by a third party, such as the Red Cross, fire department, utility company, appliance repair service, landlord, or Board of Health. If you cannot verify the misfortune, the client can be asked to provide information for a collateral contact for the verification. You must contact this person and if the information is verified, add a note next to the appropriate box on the SNAP-9B and enter a narrative on BEACON explaining the action taken. Although verification is required to process the replacement benefits, a Verification Checklist (VC-1) does not need to be sent.
A power outage valid for replacement benefits is defined as an outage that lasts four hours or more.
Procedures for Issuing Replacement SNAP Benefits
When a client reports a loss of food due to household misfortune, you must send him/her a copy of the SNAP-9B form. Before you authorize replacement benefits, you must:
ensure the client has completed and signed the SNAP-9B form;
issue the replacement benefits on the Related Benefits page using the reason FSP Household Disaster if the client is eligible for household misfortune replacement benefits; or
deny the request using the SNAP Denial of Request for Replacement Benefits for Household Misfortune (SNAP-DHMB);
annotate the BEACON Narrative tab with the action taken.
Waiver for Extension of Reporting Period
If the Department obtains a waiver from the USDA to extend the time limit to both report a household misfortune and to complete the SNAP-9B form, DTA staff will be notified of this development, which will include the terms of the waiver.
Waiver for Mass Replacement of Benefits
If the Department obtains a waiver to provide replacement benefits due to widespread household misfortune for a geographic area (e.g. city, town or county or specific zip codes), SNAP benefits will be automatically credited to the EBT accounts of eligible households impacted by the misfortune. Household verification may not be required in this instance. Staff would be notified of such a development and of the specific procedures required.
SSI Special Benefits
Operations Memo 2011-26 issued procedures for administering SSI Special Benefits. These benefits are considered noncountable income for SNAP. If a client applies for replacement SNAP benefits under household misfortune, and the client is also an SSI recipient who is elderly (age 65 or more, according to SSA rules) or disabled, the SNAP case manager should refer the client to apply for SSI Special Benefits with a cash program case manager.
An applicant for SSI Special benefits must utilize all available resources such as SNAP benefits, funds from relief agencies (e.g., the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Red Cross) before the department can authorize payment. For more information on SSI Special Benefits, refer to 106 CMR 327.390.
If an applicant for SSI Special Benefits is determined to be ineligible, you must:
issue an Notification Form Letter (NFL-9) denying the applicant; and
enter a narrative on BEACON explaining the action taken.