41. Am I eligible for SNAP if I live in a hospital, school, or other institution?

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Massachusetts Law Reform Institute

If you are living in a hospital, nursing home, prison or other institution for more than 30 days where you get the majority of your meals (more than half), you do not qualify for SNAP. Institutions include hospitals, boarding schools, nursing homes, mental health facilities, prisons and similar institutions1.

However, there are a number of exceptions that permit residents of certain institutions to receive SNAP2. You may still be eligible for SNAP if you live in the following settings:

  • federally subsidized housing for the elderly,
  • a group home serving persons with disabilities (less than 16 residents),
  • a shelter for homeless individuals or families and shelters for victims of domestic violence,
  • a teen parent living program or
  • a drug or alcohol substance use treatment center (public or nonprofit). See applying when you live in a group home, substance abuse center, or teen program.

Troubleshooting Special Situations

Home detention

If you are sentenced by a court to “home detention” (for example, you wear an electronic or prison bracelet at home), you are not considered to be living in an institution and should be SNAP eligible. See DTA Transitions Q and A, pg 2 (August 2001).

Battered individuals

If you move to a Domestic Violence shelter you can get your own SNAP benefits, even if you are still on the SNAP grant of an abuser you fled from. See DTA Transitions Hotline Q &A, pg 4 (July 2000).

Children in DCF or DYS Custody

You cannot include your children in your SNAP case if they have been placed in the custody of Department of Children and Families (DCF) or Department of Youth Services (DYS) for an extended period (more than 30 days). And, Social Security or other income received for the care of a child in an institution is not countable to rest of household. DTA Transitions Hotline Q&A, pg 4 (June 2000).

DTA Online Guide

See Appendix G for links to the DTA’s BEACON 5 Online Guide for this section.


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