A criminal record, including a drug felony conviction, does not bar you from receiving SNAP benefits in Massachusetts. However, you can be barred from SNAP benefits if you:
- are “actively fleeing” prosecution or punishment for a felony, or
- violate a condition of probation or parole.
Federal SNAP rules directs states not to disqualify individuals whose names happen to appear on a criminal database. The regulations put the burden on the state SNAP agency to confirm an individual is actually fleeing prosecution by confirming a) there is an outstanding felony warrant, b) the individual is aware of or should be reasonably expect the felony warrant, c) the individual is taking action to avoid being arrested, and d) law enforcement is actively seeking the individual. 7 CFR §273.11(n). FNS provides states with an alternate test as well. In issuing final regulations, FNS noted that unless law enforcement has arrested an individual (e.g. placed them in an institution), the individual is “free to apply for SNAP at any time” Fed Register 55410 Vol. 80, No. 175, Final Regulations September 10, 2015
DTA has not issued updated regulations as of the publication if this guide. If you see any SNAP households denied or terminated for SNAP benefits on this basis, contact an advocate immediately.
- You cannot get benefits if you get more than half your meals from a prison or half way house, but you may be eligible for SNAP benefits if you are sentenced to home detention (for example, with an electronic bracelet). See Can I get benefits separately from other people I live with?.