What income is not counted?

Produced by Patricia Baker and Victoria Negus
Reviewed January 2017

DTA looks at total monthly income to decide if you are eligible for SNAP benefits and how much you will get—but not all income counts. Here are examples of income that does not count for SNAP:

  • VISTA, Youthbuild, and AmeriCorps allowances, earnings, or payments for persons otherwise eligible.
  • Earnings of a child under age 18 who is attending secondary school at least half time.
  • Lump sum payments – such as inheritances, tax credits, damage awards, one time severance pay, or other one-time payments.
  • Reimbursements – money you get to pay you back for expenses, including training-related expenses and medical expenses.
  • Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) stipends paid to older workers doing part time community service work.
  • Anything you do not get as cash – such as free housing or food, or money that is paid directly to a landlord or utility company made by a relative, friend or agency that has no legal obligation to do so.
  • Cash contributions given to you that provide for part of your housing, food or other needs that are paid by a person or agency that has no legal obligation to do so.
  • Veterans Services (M.G.L. c 115) payments made by vendor payment directly to your landlord or utility company.
  • Money earned by a child under age 18 who is attending high school or elementary school at least half-time, provided the child lives with a parent or other responsible adult.
  • Up to $30 per household member in a three-month period that is not regular (such as money from odd jobs).
  • Up to $300 in a three-month period from private charities.
  • Federal educational assistance including grants, loans, and work-study, including Montgomery Bill payments to veterans. (See What if I am a college student?).
  • Other educational grants and scholarships that are for education costs and not earmarked or intended for current living expenses.
  • Loans from private individuals and financial institutions, including loans on the equity of a home (reverse mortgages).
  • The first $130 per month in training stipends.
  • One-time payments, such as tax refunds, state and federal earned income tax credits (EITC), insurance settlements, and back benefits from other programs.
  • Additional pay received by the household for a family member who is in the United States Armed forces and deployed in a combat zone.
  • Legally obligated child support payments that you pay for a child who is living outside the home and not part of your SNAP household (these payments are not counted for the gross income test or for calculating the benefit level).

Advocacy Reminders:

  • The SNAP regulations state that you do not need to verify income that is considered non-countable unless the information you provide is inconsistent or questionable. See 106 C.M.R. §§ 361.610(A), 363.210(D).
  • Federal and state tax refunds and other non-recurring lump sums of money such as insurance settlements or back benefits from other programs do not count as income. 106 C.M.R. §§ 363.130(E), 363.230(I), 363.140(G)(6).
  • Unlike TAFDC and EAEDC, the SNAP program does not count lump sum payments as income. For the very few SNAP households subject to the asset limits, lump sum payments are treated as assets in the month received. 106 C.M.R. § 363.230(I).
Additional Guidance

DTA Policy Guidance:

Online Guide Section:  SNAP > Eligibility Requirements > Income > Non-countable Income

  • Reimbursements paid for medical expenses not countable income. Transitions, July 2015, Quality Corner, Pg 2.
  • Repeated withdrawals (e.g. more than once) from pension or retirement accounts are countable unearned income. One time withdrawal from pension or retirement account is non-recurring lump sum and does not count as income. Hotline Q&A (Feb 2014)
  • Quarterly clothing allowance for foster children paid by DCF is countable unearned income. Transitions Hotline (Sept 2014)
  • State and federal income tax refunds are nonrecurring lump sums and are non-countable. Transitions Hotline Q&A (June 2013)
  • State Veterans Services payments made as vendor payment for rent or utilities are non-countable income. Transitions Hotline Q&A #3, #4 (May 2013)
  • State Veterans Services payments (M.G.L. Ch. 115 benefits) paid directly to a landlord or utility company is a non-countable vendor payment. Transitions Hotline Q&A #3, #4 (May 2013) F.O, Memo 2009-13 (Feb. 27, 2009)VA educational benefits excluded if grant or scholarship precludes use for current living costs. Transitions Hotline Q#5 (May 2013)
  • VA educational benefits excluded if grant or scholarship precludes use for current living costs. Transitions Hotline Q#5 (May 2013)
  • Income tax refunds from 2010-2012 are non-countable assets for 12 months from date of receipt (only affecting SNAP households subject to asset test). Ops Memo 2011-15 (May 3, 2011)
  • Montgomery GI Bill payments used for educational purposes non-countable income. Transitions Hotline Q & A (Feb. 2011)
  • Section 8 Homeownership Program vouchers are not countable as income nor claimed as shelter costs. Transitions FYI (March 2010)
  • One-time severance payment is non-recurring lump sum and does not count for SNAP purposes, but recurring severance payments are countable. Transitions Hotline Q&A (Aug. 2009) 
  • Non-recurring lump sums are non-countable income. Transitions Hotline Q&A (May 2010, Feb. 2008)
  • Interest on assets and dividends is countable income. Transitions Hotline Q&A (May 2009)
  • Flexible credits provided by employers that are used for benefits such as health insurance and cannot be taken as cash are non-countable as income; DTA workers instructed to check pay stubs to identify non-countable flex-credits. Transitions Hotline Q&A (Feb. 2006) and Transitions FYI (Jan. 2006)
  • Payments from reverse mortgage is a loan and not countable income. Transitions Hotline Q&A (April 2007)
  • Foster grandparent income not countable for SNAP. Transitions FYI (Jan. 2005)
  • Payments by relative directly to landlord for rent are not countable income. Transitions Hotline Q&A, (May 2004)
  • Social Security received by household for child residing in institution is not countable if money is used for the care and maintenance of the institutionalized child. Transitions Hotline Q&A (June 2000). 

Show DTA Policy Guidance

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