If I am a disabled immigrant, do I need to wait five years for SNAP?

We are in the process of updating the SNAP Advocacy Guide, so some of the information is no longer current.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

You do not need to wait five years if you are a lawful permanent resident adult and you receive a disability-based benefit because of a severe disability. 106 C.M.R.§362.220 (B)(7)(e). This policy also applies to battered immigrants and humanitarian parolees.

How do I show DTA I am disabled? explains the disability rules for SNAP. If you receive TAFDC, MassHealth or EAEDC based on a disability, you may be eligible without the five-year wait. If you are under age 18, there is no 5-year wait.

If you are age 65 or older and you receive EAEDC cash assistance, DTA will let you prove disability with a signed one-page statement from your doctor, nurse practitioner, physician assistant, or psychologist. The disability needs to meet the SSI severity levels that apply to seniors (which do take advanced age into account for SSI purposes).

If you are an elder or disabled LPR but are not receiving EAEDC cash assistance, contact an advocate. Some elder or disabled LPRs may not qualify for EAEDC for financial reasons (e.g., spousal income or assets above the low EAEDC limits, or they do not want/need EAEDC benefits.)

DTA Online Guide: SNAP > Eligibility Requirements > Elderly/Disabled > Processing a Claim of Disability to Qualify for the Special Regulations for SNAP and SNAP > Eligibility Requirements > Legal Permanent Residents > Disabled Noncitizen > Disabled Noncitizen

Additional Guidance:
● Five year bar does not apply to a LPRs, battered immigrants and parolees who meet multiple exceptions including disabled immigrants who are approved for EAEDC, depending on disability severity. Transitions Hotline Q&A, October 2014.

● Guidance to DTA workers on identifying both elderly and disabled EAEDC immigrants who may be eligible for SNAP without the 5-year waiting period, includes Disability Verification Form for Elderly Non-Citizens. F.O. Memo 2008-11 (March 11, 2008) and F.O. Memo 2008-28 (May 29, 2008)


Show DTA Policy Guidance

Find Legal Aid

You may be able to get free legal help from your local legal aid program. Or email a question about your own legal problem to a lawyer.

Ask a Law Librarian

If it's
9am and 4pm