If you live in someone else’s home and you pay that person for a room and at least half your weekly meals, you are considered to be a “boarder.” You are not eligible for SNAP benefits as a separate household. 106 C.M.R. § 361.240 (D). Special rules apply for boarders.
If you rent a room in someone else’s home and do not get or pay for meals, you are considered to be “a roomer.” As a roomer, you can apply for SNAP as a separate household, so long as you purchase and prepare the majority of your meals separately from the other people in the house. 106 C.M.R. § 361.240(D).
If the household where you are boarding is getting SNAP, DTA may include or exclude you (and your income) in their SNAP benefits based on what you pay for food. If excluded, DTA will then count what you pay for room and board (after certain deductions) as income to the host household.
If you do not pay a “reasonable amount” for meals, you must be included in the SNAP household of household providing meals. That means your income and assets will be counted in figuring the eligibility of the whole household. 106 C.M.R. § 361.240(D).
Example: Janet and Joe are both 23 years old and married. They move into Janet’s mother’s house. Janet’s mother, Francis, receives SNAP benefits. Francis does all of the food shopping and makes all of the meals for Janet and Joe. Janet and Joe pay $300 a month for their food and $400 for rent. They are considered “boarders” in Francis’s home. Because $300 is less for food than the maximum SNAP benefit amount for a household of 2, Janet and Joe must be part of Francis SNAP household and their income and assets count. However, if Janet and Joe actually purchased and prepared their food separately, instead of giving Francis money for food, they would not be required to be in her SNAP household.
If you are elderly or disabled and live with others who provide meals for you, see What if I am elderly or disabled and live with other people but I can't buy and cook my own food?.