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What is the homeless deduction?

Produced by Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Reviewed March 2023

If you stay in a homeless shelter, or stay temporarily in the home of another (“couch surfing”), or live on the street, your SNAP benefits should be calculated with the standard homeless deduction (currently $167 per month).

This standard deduction recognizes the basic living of doing laundry, phone calls, locker fees, and other items. 106 C.M.R. § 364.400(F)  You do not need to verify these expenses. If you get the homeless deduction, you do not get any other shelter deductions off your income.

It is important that the DTA worker code your SNAP case as “homeless” so you get this deduction. DTA considers you “homeless” if you lack a  regular nighttime residence, including if you are staying in a shelter or have other accommodations that are temporary (e.g. less than 90 days). See 106 C.M.R. § 360.030 for the definition of homeless.


 Paul is a homeless veteran who receives $500 per month in Veterans’ benefits. Sometimes he stays at Pine Street Inn, a shelter for adult individuals, and sometimes he sleeps on the street. Paul gets the $193 standard deduction and the $167 homeless deduction. His net monthly income for SNAP is $140, of which 30% is deducted from the maximum SNAP allotment of $281.

If you are homeless but temporarily staying in a house or apartment where you contribute to shelter costs while you stay there, you should get the shelter deduction (which is typically higher than the homeless deduction).

DTA Online Guide: See Appendix G for links to the DTA’s BEACON Online Guide for this section.    


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