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Can I get benefits separately from other people I live with?

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

If you buy and prepare most of your own food separately, you should qualify for your own SNAP benefits. You are not required to store the food separately or to use a different stove or refrigerator. You are also not required to have cooking facilities to qualify for SNAP. 106 C.M.R.§361.200.

On the application form, if you live with other individuals, you will be asked to list your “household members” and answer whether you purchase and prepare food together. You must answer this question truthfully.

If you are sharing an apartment with others, you are not required to list them or their SSNs on the SNAP application as “household members” unless you are buying and preparing most of your food with them. But there are exceptions for certain people required to be in your household, such as spouses and children under age 22. See Who cannot be a separate SNAP household?.

If you do not have money to buy food, you may be able to get food from food pantries, free meals from a church or soup kitchen, or borrow money for food. DTA should ask for proof of your living situation and how you are getting by only if the information you provide appears “questionable.” See What if DTA does not accept the proofs I sent them?.

Example 1

Jane and Steve are roommates who share an apartment. Both have jobs, but Jane only has part-time work. They occasionally share a meal together, but they buy, make, and eat the majority of their food separately. Jane and Steve can be separate SNAP households. Unless they are a legally married couple, they can be separate SNAP households.

Example 2

Sally is a single mother with one child. She is 25 years old and shares an apartment with her older sister. Sally pays half of the rent. She purchases and prepares the majority of her own food for herself and her child. Sally and her child can be a separate SNAP household.

DTA Online Guide: SNAP > Eligibility Requirements > Household Composition

Show DTA Policy Guidance

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