You are here

SNAP/Food Stamps for Elder/Disabled Households with Medical Expenses

Produced by Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Reviewed April 2021

NOTE: During the COVID-19 pandemic, all households will get the maximum SNAP benefits for their household size. But you still should claim medical expenses when you apply for SNAP so that you continue to get the benefits you are entitled to when the pandemic ends. Click here to learn more about changes to SNAP during COVID-19.

For All Seniors (age 60 or over) and Persons with Disabilities

If you have out-of-pocket medical expenses, your SNAP benefits may increase!  if you have medical expenses over $35 per month, DTA allows a $155 deduction from income. This deduction can increase your benefits. If you pay more than $190/month in expenses, you might get even more SNAP.

What kinds of medical related expenses can I claim?

Basic Care costs…

If you pay directly for any medical, dental care, mental health, physical therapy, hospital based care, home health and nursing care... or if you pay any insurance premiums, co-payments or deductibles.

Alternative Care…

If you pay for acupuncture, chiropractic, homeopathy or herbal treatments prescribed by a licensed practitioner.

Health Care Supplies and Equipment…

If you buy special creams, ointments, pain magnets, incontinence supplies, commodes or other supplies and/or equipment recommended by your licensed health practitioner.

Over-the-counter drugs…

If you buy pain relievers, insulin, antacids, vitamins, allergy pills, or other remedies recommended by your health practitioner.

Mileage at 56 cents/mile or the cost of public transport…

If you drive your car to appointments or to pick up drugs or medical supplies at the pharmacy, you can claim 56 cents per mile driven -- or what you pay for a taxi, bus, subway or train.

Housekeeper and caregiver expenses…

If you need a housekeeper or care attendant to care for you because of your age or disability.

Vision or hearing care communication devices, other one-time expenses…

If you buy eyeglasses, contacts, hearing aides, speech or communication equipment, or have monthly usage fees, or if you pay emergency medical care not covered by insurance.

Is there a limit or cap on the expenses I can claim?

  • If you have proof of medical expenses over $35/month, DTA will automatically allow a standard $155 deduction. You need to show proofs of at least $35.01 /month to get this $155 deduction. 
  • If you have more than $190/month in unreimbursed medical expenses, DTA will deduct the actual amount of these expenses in calculating your income, after the first $35. There is no cap on what you can claim if you have proof of your unreimbursed health-care expenses.


Jane Smith is 78 and lives in public housing. She gets $1,000 in Social Security, plus MassHealth. She pays $300/month rent plus utilities including AC. Without claiming her medical expenses, Mrs. Smith gets $80/month in SNAP. Mrs. Smith drives 10 miles/week to the doctor and pharmacy. She also buys tylenol and eye drops recommended by her doctor ($9), and pays copays ($5) for the doctor visits. Because she spends more than $35/month in transportation cost (43 miles x 56 cents=$24.08) plus copays ($5) and other medical expenses ($9), she will get the standard medical deduction of $155/month. Her SNAP benefits will increase to $150/month.

How do I claim medical expenses?

You can claim medical expenses on your application, or contact your DTA worker at any time. Keep copies of bills you pay and appointment letters. Appointment letters show the dates you travel. Sometimes your pharmacy can print out your receipts. Give these proofs to your DTA worker. For more information on medical expenses for SNAP, see our Know Your Rights flier.

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.

Useful forms

Ask a Law Librarian

If it's
9am and 4pm