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

Produced by Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Reviewed March 2023

If you buy and prepare most of your own food separately, you should qualify for your own SNAP benefits. – unless you are required to get SNAP with certain family members. See Who cannot be a separate SNAP household? The SNAP rules assume that it costs less money for a group of people to share the costs and time of buying and preparing food. 

You are not required to store your 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

If you are sharing an apartment with others, you are not required to list your roommates on your SNAP application. You do not have to list their names, SSN or other information -- unless you are buying and preparing most of your food with them. There are exceptions to this household rule if you are living with a spouse, your children under age 22 or your parents if you are under age 22. See Who cannot be a separate SNAP household?

Even if you have little or no income to buy your own food, you can still be a separate SNAP household. Many individuals get food from food pantries, periodic free meals or they borrow money for food. This is not questionable. DTA should only ask for proof of your living situation or 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. Jane recently lost her job and has no income. She started getting food from a local food pantry. Jane and Steve occasionally share a meal together, but most of the time they use their own food to prepare the majority of their food separately. Jane and Steve 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, Rhonda. 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 from Rhonda.

DTA Online Guide: See Appendix G for links to the DTA’s BEACON 5 Online Guide for this section.

Show DTA Policy Guidance

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