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Who cannot be a separate SNAP household?


Some people cannot be a separate household even if they buy and prepare their food separately. Here are three important exceptions:

  • A child under age 22 who lives with a parent or stepparent must be in the same SNAP household as the parent. 106 C.M.R. § 361.200(A)(3).
  • A child (other than a foster child) under age 18 who lives with a responsible adult (regardless of relationship) must be in the same household as the adult. 106 C.M.R. § 361.200(A)(2).
  • A husband and wife who live together must be in the same household, even if they never share meals together. 106 C.M.R. § 361.200(A)(1).

Example 1

Kelly is a single parent, age 20, who lives with her parents and her 1 year old baby. Kelly receives child support from the absent father for herself and her baby. Kelly cannot get her own SNAP benefits and must apply with her parents. She is eligible as a separate SNAP household when she turns 22.

Example 2

Katherine is 65 years of age and receives Social Security. She cares for her two grandchildren, ages 8 and 12, and receives TAFDC for them. Katherine cannot get separate SNAP benefits for her grandchildren because they are minors and she provides financial and parental supervision for them.

    Households with a foster adult or child

    There are special rules for households with foster children and foster adults. A household can choose to include or exclude the foster child or disabled foster adult from the SNAP unit. 106 C.M.R. § 361.240(F). The household may get more SNAP benefits if the foster child/adult is excluded because then the foster care payments do not count toward the SNAP household income.

    For more details on the right to opt out a foster child or foster adult, see What if I am caring for a foster child or for a disabled/elder foster adult?

    Advocacy Reminders

    • The TAFDC and SNAP rules differ in the treatment of teen parents who live with parents or siblings. Although a teen parent age 18 or older can get her own TAFDC grant for herself and her baby, she cannot get her own SNAP benefits separately from her parents (if she lives with them) until she turns age 22. If her parents do not wish to apply for SNAP, the teen parent is not eligible but her TAFDC should continue.
    • The TAFDC and SNAP rules also differ in the treatment of children living with non-parent relatives. A grandparent, stepparent, aunt, or other relative can get separate TAFDC for a dependent child without being part of the TAFDC unit or having his/her income count. 106 C.M.R. § 204.320. However, a relative cannot get separate SNAP for a child under age 18 who lives in the home when the relative exercises parent-like control over the child.

    A “SNAP shot” on separate household status for persons who live together

    Separate SNAP HH?

    Unrelated persons who purchase and prepare most of the food separatefrom each other.


    Related persons – other than spouses or children under age 22 – who purchase and prepare most food separately.


    Spouses who live together and unmarried parents who live with their children in common.


    Persons under 22 years who live with their parents, or children under 18 living with financially/legally responsible adults



      Produced by Patricia Baker, Victoria Negus, Laura Gallant, Deborah Harris, Rochelle Hahn, Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
      Last updated 2014


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