Who cannot be a separate SNAP household?

We are in the process of updating the SNAP Advocacy Guide, so some of the information is no longer current.  In the meantime, you can read or download a pdf of the 2023 guide from www.masslegalservices.org/FoodStampSNAPAdvocacyGuide

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

Some people cannot be a separate household even if they buy and prepare their food separately. These are the three situations where household members must be part of the same SNAP household:
■ A child under age 22 who lives with a parent or stepparent must be in the same SNAP household as the parent. 106 C.M.R.§361.200(A)(3).
■ A child (other than a foster child) under age 18 who lives with a responsible adult must be in the same household as the adult - regardless of relationship. 106 C.M.R §361.200(A)(2).
■ A legally married couple who lives together must be in the same household, even if they never share food or meals together. 106 C.M.R. §361.200(A)(1).

Example 1:

Kelly is a single parent, age 20, of a 1 year old daughter. They live with her parents who work. Kelly receives TAFDC for herself and her baby. However, due to her age, Kelly cannot get her own SNAP benefits and must be part of her parents’ SNAP household (if they get or are applying for SNAP). She and her baby are eligible as a separate SNAP household once she turns 22 if they purchase and prepare their food separately.

Example 2:

Katherine is 65 years of age and receives Social Security. She cares for two grandchildren, ages 8 and 12, and receives child support for them. Katherine cannot get separate SNAP benefits for her grandchildren because they are minors and she provides financial control and supervision for them.


A “SNAP shot” on separate household status for persons who live together

Separate SNAP HH?

Unrelated persons who purchase and prepare most food separately from each other.


Related persons – other than spouses or children under age 22 – who purchase and prepare most food separately.


Spouses who live together, regardless of food purchase/preparing.
Unmarried parents of children in common who live together.


Persons under 22 years who live at home with their parents.
Children under 18 living with adults who supervise them.


See What if I am caring for a foster child? and What if I am providing adult foster care? to opt out a foster child or foster adult.

Advocacy Reminders

  • The TAFDC and SNAP rules differ in the treatment of teen parents. Although a teen parent age 18 or older can get her own TAFDC grant for herself and her baby when living with her parents, the SNAP rules do not allow the teen to get her own SNAP benefits separate from her parents until she turns age 22. If her parents do not wish to apply for SNAP, the teen parent is not SNAP eligible. Her TAFDC benefits should continue.
  • The TAFDC and SNAP rules also differ in the treatment of children living with relatives. A grandparent, stepparent, aunt, or other relative can receive separate TAFDC for a dependent child, without being on the TAFDC grant or having his/her income count, In the SNAP program, a relative who cares for a child in the home cannot get separate SNAP for that child, even if they are not the legal guardianship or adoptive parent.

DTA Online Guide:SNAP > Eligibility Requirements > Household Composition

Additional Guidance: In joint custody situations, the parent who exercises most supervision gets SNAP benefits for child, even if the court order awards custody to other parent; if equal supervision, parents decide which parent receives SNAP for child. Hotline Q&A (Feb. 2012).

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