General Eligibility Rules

Produced by Patricia Baker and Victoria Negus, Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Reviewed January 2020

What is a SNAP household or assistance unit?

A SNAP household or assistance unit is either a person living alone or a group of people living together. The SNAP rules look at whether persons who live together customarily purchase and prepare” food together. 106 C.M.R.§361.200.

Needs-based programs such as TAFDC, EAEDC, SSI, and MassHealth, consider the legal responsibility of persons who live together: spouses to spouse, parents to minor children. The SNAP program is different. SNAP looks at the income of persons living together who have a legal obligation to support as well as other individuals who buy and share food together. This is a fundamental concept of the SNAP program, but it can confuse both low-income households and advocates because eligibility differs from other needs-based programs.

See Can I get benefits separately from other people I live with? and Who cannot be a separate SNAP household? for the “household composition” rules about who must be included in your SNAP household.

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