To get your SNAP benefit amount, multiply your net monthly income by 0.3 (30 percent). Round up this amount to the nearest dollar.
Take this amount and subtract it from the maximum benefit level for a household of your size. The result is the amount of your monthly benefits. 106 C.M.R. §§ 364.600, 364.980. See "Maximum SNAP Allotments," Appendix B: Income and Benefits Standards, Chart 1.
Carl and his family in What is the shelter deduction and how does DTA calculate it? have $500 in net income after allowable deductions. To determine the family’s SNAP benefits, take 30% of the “net income” (30% of $500) and subtract it from the maximum benefit, as follows:
$500 Net Income for Carl's family x .30 (Multiply by 30%) $150 Countable Income $511 Maximum SNAP for 3 persons - 150 Countable income (round up) $361 Monthly SNAP benefits for Carl's family
Your first month of SNAP benefits
For the first month you apply, you will get benefits only for the days left in the SNAP month from the date you apply. This is called prorating of benefits. 106 C.M.R. § 364.650. For example, if you apply halfway through your SNAP month, you will get only 50 percent of the monthly benefit. See When will I get my SNAP benefits? for an explanation of "SNAP month."
$16 minimum benefit for one- and two-person households
If you are a household of one or two and your gross income is below the gross income test for your situation, you should receive a minimum of $16 a month in SNAP benefits. 106 C.M.R. § 364.600(A).
Households with zero benefits
Strange as it may seem, a household of three or more persons can get "approved" for zero SNAP benefits even though gross income is below the 200% gross income test. This happens when thirty percent of your net income is greater than the maximum benefit amounts. 106 C.M.R. §§ 364.600(A), 365.100. DTA will put your case in "suspended" status.
The reason you are "approved" for zero benefit is so you can quickly get benefits without reapplying if you have a decrease in your income, increase in expenses, or change in household size that makes you eligible for benefits. DTA will send you a notice stating that your SNAP case is "open" in the system, but you will not receive any benefits. If you report any changes during the certification period that make you eligible, you do not need to go through a whole reapplication with verifications and an interview. You only have to verify the change (drop in income, increased expenses, a new household member).
Additional Policy Guidance on Zero Benefit Households
- Revised notice to categorically eligible zero income households with information on changes to report to get SNAP benefits without reapplication. DTA Field Operations Memo 2007-50 (Sept. 28, 2007).
Produced by Patricia Baker, Victoria Negus, Laura Gallant, Deborah Harris and Rochelle Hahn, Massachusetts Law Reform Institute Last updated October 2014