Am I eligible for SNAP if I live in a hospital, school, or other institution?

We are in the process of updating the SNAP Advocacy Guide, so some of the information is no longer current.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

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

If you are living in a hospital, nursing home, prison or other institution for more than 30 days where you get the majority of your meals (more than half), you do not qualify for SNAP. Institutions include hospitals, boarding schools, nursing homes, mental health facilities, prisons and similar institutions. 106 C.M.R §361.240(A) and (B).

You cannot include your children in your SNAP case if they have been placed in Department of Children and Families (DCF) or Department of Youth Services (DYS) custody.

However, there are a number of exceptions that permit residents of certain institutions to receive SNAP. 106 C.M.R.§361.240(B). You may still be eligible for SNAP if you live in the following settings:

■ federally subsidized housing for the elderly,
■ a group home that serve persons with disabilities and have less than 16 residents See How do I apply if I live in a group home, substance abuse center, or teen program?,
■ a shelter for homeless individuals or families and shelters for victims of domestic violence See What if I am homeless or live in a shelter?,
■ a teen parent living program See How do I apply if I live in a group home, substance abuse center, or teen program?, or
■ a drug or alcohol treatment center (public or nonprofit). The center will require you to make them an authorized representative during your stay. See How do I apply if I live in a group home, substance abuse center, or teen program?

Advocacy Reminders:

  • If you are sentenced by a court to “home detention” (for example, you wear an electronic or prison bracelet at home), you are not considered to be living in an institution and should be SNAP eligible.
  • If you move from a live in drug/alcohol treatment center or teen living program, you should receive your SNAP benefits directly once you move into a permanent residence. The residential program should immediately report the change of address to DTA to ensure your SNAP benefits continue if you are still SNAP eligible.

Additional DTA Guidance:
● Battered woman who moves to DV shelter can receive own SNAP benefits, even if still on SNAP grant of abuser. Transitions Hotline Q &A (July, 2000)
Home detention (electronic bracelet) does not render an applicant ineligible. Transitions Hotline Q&A (Aug. 2001)
● Social Security or other income received for a child in an institution is not countable to rest of household. Transitions Hotline Q&A (June 2000).


Show DTA Policy Guidance

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