How to SNAP: Household Rules

Art: Robin Mead


🧡 We’ve now managed to find grocery delivery that accepts food stamps in at least some areas of nearly every state except Alaska, Alabama, and Hawaii. How to Get Groceries Delivered with SNAP/EBT

🧡 If you are disabled or lost your income and running out of food by the end of the month: How to Get Enough Food Stamps to Actually Eat

🧡 For anyone who is homebound or sheltering in place: Food. Rent. Internet. Unemployment. Paid Leave. Student Loans. Grocery Delivery. Love. Bills. Online Doctors. What to Do During School Closings. Read All of Today’s Updates


SNAP food stamps has a special way of defining a “household”. A household is:

🍎 Your spouse (if you live together)

🍎  Your children under the age of 22 (if you live together)

🍎  Any person who you have a child with, even if you are not married. (if you live together and the child also lives with you)

🍎 Anyone else you live with AND share food with

That’s it! If you live with other people but do not share food, they are not part of your food stamps household. You read that right: You can live in the same house and be a different household.

According to the regulations, someone is not part of your household if they purchase and prepare food separately. If this is your situation, food stamps regulations state that they will NOT consider the income of the people you live with. SNAP Federal Regulations for Household

Example: Don, Jane & Jim

🍎 Don, Jane, and Jim live together. They all apply for food stamps together. They get $10 per month.

🍎  Don, Jane, and Jim live together. Their food is all purchased, prepared and stored separately. They each apply for food stamps separately. Don qualifies for $190 per month in food stamps. Jane qualifies for $25 per month in food stamps. Jim does not qualify for food stamps.

Example: Suzy Lives with Her Mom

🍎 Suzy is an adult and lives with her mom and eats meals together. Suzy applies for food stamps and qualifies for $0 per month.

🍎 Suzy lives with her mom. Suzy and her mom keep all their food separate. Suzy pays for her own food but she is disabled and cannot go to the store. She tells food stamps that she would like her mom to be an authorized shopper. Then she gives her money and food stamps card to her mom and her mom shops for her. Suzy applies for food stamps. The food stamps caseworker notifies Suzy that she qualifies for $150 per month.

Example: Julie and Family

🍎 Julie lives with her husband, her two young children, and her mother. They share meals. Julie applies for food stamps. She qualifies for $0 per month.

🍎 Julie lives with her husband, their two young children, and her mother. Julie, her husband and kids buy their own food and use one half of the fridge. Mom buys her own food and uses the other half of the fridge. At the food stamps interview, Julie explains the situation. The food stamps caseworker says that Julie, her husband and her kids are one household. Together they qualify for $300 per month.

Medicaid & Utility Assistance

In some programs, you can apply for food stamps, medicaid and utility assistance at the same time. The regulations for Medicaid and Utility Assistance are different.

For Utility Assistance, you will generally need to include all people in the house no matter who they are.

For Medicaid, you never need to include people you are not related to (housemates or friends you live with). You may or may not need to include your children and parents, depending on everyone’s age, and which program you are applying for, and sometimes if anyone was declared as a dependent on taxes.

If you are applying for multiple programs, some people fill out each application separately, to avoid confusion. Or you can apply for them all at once, but double check with your caseworker to make sure that no one was wrongly added to your SNAP account.

Regulations for Separate Households

🍎 Do I need to store my food separately? 

The federal regulations only mention preparing and purchasing food. Please check the regulations in your state to see if storing is mentioned. Many people on food stamps keep a private refrigerator in their rooms or share a refrigerator, but have a designated shelf and cupboard for just their food. If you have a separate food stamps account, make sure everyone you live with is aware that your food is separate and should only be eaten by you.

🍎  What is the correct way to purchase food separately?

Many people with disabilities are unable to shop for themselves. If you have your own food stamps account, you are allowed to designate someone else to shop for you.

When your shopper is buying the food, they should make sure that your food does not get intermingled with anyone else’s food. For example: Jill’s mom is her authorized shopper. When Jill’s mom goes to the store, she checks out and pays for all of Jill’s food. Then, once that is complete, she checks out and pays for all her own food. She never combines it into one purchase or splits the bill.

Also, make sure to notify your food stamps caseworker that someone else is shopping for you (see below)

🍎 What if I share food with someone I do not live with?

Food Stamps regulations define a household as people who live together. We could not find any rules addressing people you don’t live with. If you discover more information on this, please comment below and let us know.

🍎  What about occasional meals together? 

Please check the regulations in your state, or check the language on your food stamps application. Most states will ask you if you “usually” or “customarily” purchase and prepare food with other people you live with. In most states, sharing an occasional meal does not make you part of the same SNAP household.

🍎  Do I have to eat alone? 

No. Many people on food stamps prepare their food separately, but eat their food at the table with others in their household. This is especially common for people with chronic health problems who need to have special diets.

🍎 How can I find the rules?

Most food stamps applications will include a question asking if your food is together or separate. You can look at an application to see the exact language your state uses. Many states also publish their policies on their website, if you want to read the full policy. Here’s an example of a food stamps policy on separate households from Alaska.

Tips for Applying as a Separate Household

If you live in a house with other people who you do not share food with, it’s very confusing to fill out the application, because they ask you to list everyone you live with and then ask for all their info. If you are applying as a separate household, what do you write here? Here’s a few ideas our readers have tried:

🍎 Jane called a Food Stamps caseworker and explained that she lives with other people but stored and prepared food separately. The caseworker explained that in Jane’s state, she should simply leave out all information for anyone she does not share food with. Note: Paperwork policies vary by state. If you have a question, please try to talk directly to a food stamps caseworker. (not random person who answers the phone). If you are applying for Utility Assistance at the same time, you must include everyone who lives there, but there will be a box to check about who shares food.

🍎 John applied in person. When the caseworker asks for the name, financial information and social security numbers for everyone in his household, he explained, “I don’t have that information. I live with other people but they are not part of my food stamps household. I purchase and prepare food separately.”

🍎 Judy did the same thing, but over the phone.

🍎 Jack got a paper copy of the application. When it asks for name of other people he lived with, he wrote “see attached.” Then he attached a note: “I live with other people but they are not part of my food stamps household. I purchase and prepare food separately. I have not included their names or financial information on this form.” Again, this is for food stamps only. The rules are different for utility assistance.

Another option is to add in everyone’s name and financial information, and then check the box indicating whether your food is combined or separate, and then check with your caseworker to be sure it was entered correctly.

If Someone Else Shops or Cooks For You

It is common for people with chronic illness or disabilities to have a family member, caregiver, friend or aide shop and cook for them. This will not affect your food stamps.

If you have not already done so, you can contact your caseworker, and tell her the name of the person who is shopping for you. They can add this person as an authorized shopper for you, so this person will have official permission to use your Food Stamps card.

Food Stamps does not care who shops or prepares your meals. They only care if the food is purchased and prepared separately. If the food is intermingled, they will not consider you a separate household, and you would apply together.

According to the regulations, if your food is kept separately when shopping, and paid for as a separate transaction and usually prepared as a separate meal from others who are eating, then Food Stamps would consider you a separate household.

Next Steps

If you have a change in your income, savings, rent, utilities, medical expenses, or household, always notify your food stamps caseworker.

If you would like to request that your food stamps be reassessed based on changes, you can request this at any time.

Some of our readers report that they found it easier to report changes and communicate with their caseworker by email. This has the added advantage of creating a written record of changes you report. You can ask your caseworker if she has an email where you can reach her.

If you are asked to go to an in-person meeting and you cannot attend due to your disability, you can request an accommodation to do the meeting by phone or mail.

If you think your food stamps were not processed correctly, here’s some ideas for next steps.

Thanks for Reading

🍎  Learn more about assistance for people who are disabled: How to Be Poor in America

🍎  Page Updated: 10/1/19

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112 thoughts on “How to SNAP: Household Rules”

  1. Do I need to claim my two year old son on my taxes in order to add him on my application for CalFresh? My son’s father claims him on his taxes but my son lives with me.
    * I pay rent and it’s just me and my son preparing food together.


  2. My son recently moved in with me. He prepares his own meals. He was laid off due to the Covid crisis. Can he apply for food stamps even though he lives with me/


    1. Yes, he can. He just needs to tell the person on the phone that he purchases his food separately and he prepares all of his own meals. Just because he lost his job and he doesn’t currently purchase anything because he needs the money has no bearing on this. It is usual way of eating is purchasing his food separately and preparing it separately, but he qualifies for the full amount.


    2. Yes, absolutely if he purchases his food separately and prepares it separately. He just needs to make sure to leave you off the application or if it does ask on the application whether or not he prepares and shops for food separately to say no. He hasbto make sure that that is clear, stating that he does not share any food business with you at all and that you have told him that you expect him to continue to do that and he needs a way to pay for his food himself and that you stated you are not helping him.


  3. I am a stay at home mom and I just applied for food stamps for me and my daughter who will be a year old April 19. Her father lives with us but we buy our food separately so I didn’t include his name on the application. Do I need to include him on it? Are we considered a household even if we have separate food?


  4. Hi sleepy girl, thank you so much for the great website!
    i lost my job and on unemployments benefits now. I have a child with disability, we don’t receive any benefits for the child. My elderly mother lives with us and receives SSI. She cooks and eats separate.
    how do i apply for medicaid for me and my child, do i include my mom in our household? can i claim her as my dependent on taxes?


    1. HI Emma,

      I believe you can just go online and apply.

      To my knowledge, food stamps will consider your mom a separate household. She can submit her own food stamps application separately,, unless you want to start sharing food and all apply together.

      For medicaid, please double check with medicaid department in your area. Typically, your mom would not be part of your medicaid application, but that might change if you declare her as a dependent.

      If your income is low, you can apply for SSI for the child, but it’s income based… if your income goes back up it might end.

      Depending on how high your unemployment check is, and how high your rent/mortgage is, you might qualify for food stamps or might not.

      Do you know… Is you mom on SSI, SSDI, or retirement?


  5. Can my household still receive CalFresh if I’m a stay at home mother and my partner works. We have 3 kids. I’m currently on maternity leave from my job and we have found it very difficult to find someone to take care of our baby when I go back to work, so we are considering me not going back in order to take take care of all our children.


  6. Our son is 21 and has been disabled since birth. He is non-verbal. We have legal guardianship. I am the rep payee for his SSI. He is receiving medicaid.
    There are 3 of us in the household. We just started to charge him rent (that does not include food) which increased his SSI. We would be going to the store and continue to prepare his food.
    What will we need for the application process in AZ? We want to make sure that he receives the highest benefit that he is entitled too.
    Thanks in advance for your help and advise.


    1. Hi kym

      I believe he will be eligible for his own account starting at age 22, if his food is purchased and prepared separately.

      If his food is intermingled with other family members, then he it would be a joint application including everyone he shares food with.

      Either way you can be added to his snap account as an authorized shopper.


      1. Hello there!

        I am in Las Vegas. I am receiving foodstamps and Medicaid. I need to send in my re-evaluation. I am pregnant and will be due soon. I was able to file as a separate household from him this whole time. If my ex partner were on the lease but is moving out by the time the baby is due will that be an issue? If he is still on the lease and helping me with rent but not actually living there?


        1. Hi Raven,

          I would ask your food stamps worker this question. From what you’ve described, I think they will consider you a separate household but….

          – they may ask for proof that he has moved out (like proof of his new address)

          – I am not certain but they may treat his payment of rent as child support or as a gift to you in which case it might be reportable as income. I’m not sure about that part though.

          I hope it goes well for you. 🏵️ 🌼 


  7. Hi, my mother who lives in New York is experiencing issues with my sisters behavior and thinks a change of environment would do her some good. My mother currently receives food stamps for my sister who is 14 years old. My mother wants my sister to move in with me, but I’m wondering how or if my sister would qualify for Food stamp benefits as she is not my child but we would simply be fostering her for some time (Till July) . I would have to be the one to do her shopping as she doesn’t have the experience to make sure the benefits would last her the month. Would she qualify?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Many many years ago, we had my brother in law live with us, who was my husbands younger brother and a minor, we had their mother/parents sign a temporary custody form of some sort, it wasn’t anything needing a lawyer or complicated, it just stated that we would be taking care of him, rather than the actual parent and we were able to get food stamps for him. Just ask the Social Services associate what you need.


  8. I live in Las Vegas! I lost my job a few months ago, but i live w my parents. I’ve supported myself but now i need help (applying for SNAP). I buy my own food. But i pay rent to my parents. It’s asking if it’s subsidized and if it’s shared. What’s the difference? Also will it have a significant difference (More or less) in the amount i receive if i don’t add that i pay the rent?


    1. They are asking if what is subsidized or shared? rent? food?

      Perhaps you can call your local food stamps office and ask?

      Food stamps has a complex formula. Sometimes rent makes a big difference, sometimes not. If you have no income, it will likely make a difference. Paying utilities separate from rent also makes a difference in some states.


    2. Subsidized usually means some government or someone else say parents are paying for your rent or some of it. Like low income housing. Or if you get it for free, etc. So basically you are paying a monthly rent to your parents and keeping your food/cooking separate from them. Which is what you need to tell them. How much rent you pay, and that you are keeping this aspect separate, the food is separate and the cooking is separate, no one eats the others food, this makes you a separate household in the same house, unless you are a minor. You parents could collect food stamps to feed you perhaps if they did not consider you separate. Just go to the social services office and tell them you are separate.


  9. I live in florida, alone. Applied for food stamps and was approved for $16, they said that was a courtesy amount because I really didn’t qualify. I’m on disability with copd, disability pays $1197.30. I pay 120 auto ins, 100 electric, 110 phone, 450 rent and between 30 and 50 for drugs. Not including co -pays for dr visits or medical. They said they only count 247 for my housing, 291 for all utilities and 77 for medical. That calculate my net income as$739. The math don’t add up, I live on less than $400 a mo and they give my $16?


    1. If you disagree with their decision, you have the right to appeal. I wonder if you could also request a copy of your file including document showing their calculations?

      For medical expenses, you may need to include receipts and documentation. If you already did this and you feel they didn’t include all your expenses, you can appeal… documenting expenses..

      Auto insurance won’t matter and phone has little or no impact on food stamps, but $110 seems quite high to me for phone? There are some programs that provide $10 internet in some areas, and it’s possible to get a free phone with limited service, hope this helps:

      Are your year round utilities averaging significantly higher than 291?


      1. Thanks for your fast reply, I will see if I can get a copy of their calculations because the math don’t add up. And I’m studying the “documenting medical bills” section now, I just had a Ct scan of my chest last Monday 11-4 per Medicare’s request, I guess it an annual thing with me (copd) and they saw a spot on my lung. So now I’m waiting for a call form a specialist to see if they want to do a biopsy, $50 co-pay for him plus whatever my share of the procedure, I’ll have some medical bills to document for sure. And the $110 for the phone is a Verizon plan with unlimited everything, I shut off my home phone and internet, and use my phone as a hot spot for all my internet. It saved me money at the time, 5 yrs ago, but there may be a better way now, just love the unlimited internet. And I work hard to keep my utilities down, (limited use of act and heat, l.e.d lights in all fixtures and keep the hot water heater off until needed. I also posted on another page about Medicaid/Medicare issues. Thanks for all you do, you’re a beacon of light in a world of darkness.


        1. Hi Again,

          We’ve heard from a ton of people who are thrilled with the $10 internet, if that is available in your area, it may work out well for you. The free phones are kind of mixed…. better than nothing, but people don’t love them. But they should still get unlimited internet in your home if you have wifi. Hope it goes great. 🏵️ 🌼💛 


      2. No one is allowing anyone to take a $110 expense for a phone, though if phone/internet/cable is of one bill maybe it is put this way. They only allow on lifeline programs either a free cell phone, or about $16 toward a landline.


    2. Someone pulling in nearly $1200 a month I can assure you will not qualify for food stamps at all, and I think the lady was right. My sister gets just about the same as you and just started getting Social Security but lost all of her snap because of the money. You’re sort of on the threshold of how much you can make as a single person and still qualify for ANY snap, so for you to get the $16 that’s pretty good because having any kind of snap card can sometimes entitle you to other things, like the current AT&T access program that can get you $10 a month for Internet, things like that. Also during disasters, they will puff you up to get the full amount of $200 once in a while, like hurricane ravaged areas sometimes get hundreds to help out, the current now COVID-19 also gets you the full amount now ea minth if you have snap, so consider yourself lucky that you got the $16 because many of the programs you will qualify for if their criteria is just based on the fact that you have ANY SNAP.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I was recently accepted for food stamps and just want to clarify something. So I live with my parents, sister, and daughter. My boyfriend (aren’t married and father of my child) does not live with us, but supports us financially with $500 a month plus purchase of foods we need, which I did tell the case worker and put down as my monthly income as $500 (i currently don’t work only my boyfriend). I included only the family I live with and myself on the application since it only asked for the people I live with, but only said I wanted to apply for food stamps for me and my daughter. As I said before, I was accepted, but my boyfriend is nervous about this situation because he is saying he can get charged the amount of EBT I receive. Is this true? I mean we aren’t husband and wife, but we do share a child, which lives with me and we don’t all live together. Also, since he claims our daughter on his taxes, can that affect him on his taxes? Thank you for tour replies in advance.


    1. Hi Andrea,

      If you are applying for cash assistance, I have heard situations where they will ask one of the parents to pay it back, or will pursue child support.

      I’ve never heard of this happening for food stamps.

      I’m sorry I don’t know the tax rules.


  11. Hi, I am a mother of 2 currently not working as of January. My daughter is 6 and my son is 20 months. I moved into a house with my boyfriend in October and did not put him in my application. I was receiving benefits prior to moving in with him for both my kids, my son is our only child together. They came to my house and seen we had lived together and I told them we did, we didn’t hear anything back from them for 6 months as well as the stamps being turned off, we recently received a bill for 3000$ In my boyfriends name. Can they charge him for my whole time receiving food stamps if 1. We havnt always lived together 2. We do everything separate including food 3. My daughter is not his. What and where do we go from here?


    1. Hi Shell,

      I am sorry to hear you are in this situation.

      My understanding of the rules is that you would all be considered one food stamps household because you share a child.

      I hope you might be able to contact your local legal aid and see if they can assist you in anyway with this?

      I do not know how it works when food stamps asks for money back, but I very highly doubt that they could ask to collect money from before you were living together.

      If that is what has happened, you might want to appeal the decision about any funds from before you were living together, and try to show any proof that you have that you were not living together for that time.

      If you have any prior leases, copies of old rent payments, utility bills, old drivers licenses, etc, for either of you from that time period that may be helpful.

      I hope it goes well for you.


  12. I live in CA, i have 2 children from a previous relationship & a younger child from a current relationship. I get child support for my 2 children but in the form of cash aid, I was receiving the benefits prior to moving in with my bf (my youngest sons father) but I recently got back with him and move in with him. Is he financially responsible for all my children even the first two who are not biologically his?


    1. He is not financially responsible for them, however, for SNAP you would have to all be on the same application as one household.

      I am not certain the rules for other programs like cash aid and Medicaid. I believe those are handled differently.


  13. My husband and I have 2 kids of our own with one on the way. We also have legal guardianship of my husband’s 16 year old brother. We only have my husband’s income because I’m a student and take care of our disabled daughter when I’m not at school (we have not applied for disability for her yet) When we first applied for food stamps we qualified. We meet the guide lines as a family of . And still do (that includes my husband’s brother, but are only a little under for a family of 4, without my husband’s brother) Then they kept dropping it to almost the point we could hardly eat. Now they are saying we can’t claim my husband’s brother because he isn’t our child. He doesn’t have a job and lives with us full time. He’s 16, plays sports, and eats more than me and the other 2 kids together. Why can’t we claim him if he lives with us? We have legal custody and he doesn’t have an income. We don’t get any help for him at all other than health insurance.

    Thank you


    1. I’m sorry I’m not sure. My understanding is that any person who lives with you and shares food with you should be on your food stamps case.

      Were you denied in writing or just something someone said to you? Was this for food stamps or medicaid?


  14. I was approved for benefits in North Carolina recently. My boyfriend and I live together, but we don’t eat or buy food together, so I didn’t put him on the application. I got a call for an over the phone interview the same day I applied. All they needed was my lease so I went ahead and sent it in, which was on Friday. Monday I get a call telling me because my boyfriend is on the lease he has to be on my case. I’ve heard otherwise from friends and family, but my caseworker is being stubborn. The craziest thing we truly buy separate food. How can I work around her telling me his HAS to be up there?


    1. Also, did you also apply for utility assistance? If you are applying for utility assistance, he will have to be included for that…. but his income should be excluded for the SNAP


      1. I’m 20 I have a 5 month old baby we live with her dad but I’m not marry , but he has full on the responsibility as a father . I was wondering if I apply for food stamps for me and my daughter would he still be able to claim us on his taxes ? Or should I apply as whole family ?


  15. We have a family of 4, one income, all children under the age of 13 and we get the bare minimum. My husband supposedly makes to much because they figure before taxes. After all the bills there is $1.05 left every month. I don’t know how they figure that is enough to buy food with, Uncle Sam gets my money every week, not us. Meanwhile my neighbor who has the same family size as me gets triple what I get, her income is smaller but not by much. I don’t understand how they figure some families can afford it and some cannot. Every other week I hit food pantries to make ends meet, which often isn’t much for a complete meal. We live in a very rural, poor town, no city busses, no day labor, we also are the lowest unemployed county in our whole state- I can’t wait until my kids are old enough to stay home so I can work. Struggling so very much ☹️☹️


  16. im on ssi i live in room rental do i or my landlord have to list all the roomates? we each do our own food seperatly so when filling stuff out do i need to list the other roomates? they have allready said we are not applying for calfresh so leave our names off it…this is for food stamps in california


  17. I live with my childs father. we purchase our food separately, store it separately, and eat separately as he and i work different shifts. We split the bills separately as well. Must i include him on my foodshare?!


      1. Okay so I have a daughter who is one and I’m currently getting ready to move in with my grandma but we would be store and eat our food separately. I’m 20 about to be 21, so would I receive food stamps? Do I have to include her or?


        1. If she is not your legal or adopted parent, I believe she would not be considered part of your foods stamps household. Please double check with your local food stamps office though.


      1. Okay so I have a daughter who is one and I’m currently getting ready to move in with my grandma but we would be store and eat our food separately. I’m 20 about to be 21, so would I receive food stamps? Do I have to include her or?


        1. Sorry for the slow response. In my understanding the rules would not consider her part of your food stamps household since she is not your parent. You can tell your caseworker the situation to confirm. You’ve probably already figured this out by now.


  18. Hi, my FIL is 70, disabled, living on $1700 a month of SS. this is basically the cost of his mortgage. Looking to get him assistance. His daughter (29), her husband (29), and child (1) are living with him till they get on their feet. They do help out with the utilities but i know he buys his own food and cooks for himself as everyone is on different schedules. Is he eligible for SNAP while they live there or do they get included as household for helping him pay bills?


    1. If his food is prepared and purchased separately, he should be able to apply for his own food stamps account.

      They will not count other people’s income, but if other people are giving him money, that might count as income to him. I am not sure if they would count it if they are paying bills but not directly giving money. That may vary by state, but if they are only paying part of utilities (not the entire bill) that might not impact.

      Please make sure they apply the disabled rules to his case. They give extra amount to people with disabilities who have very high rent or mortgage. Hope it goes well for him.

      If daughter, husband and child are low income, they can also apply for their own food stamps account. They would need to apply as a unit, but grandad doesn’t need to be on their account if his food is separate.


  19. I recently was told that a girl and her son had SNAP from her own case. She does not live with her Mother. But the girl states she lost her food stamps because her Mother claimed her and her baby on her case. From what I’ve read here that doesn’t seem to be likely. On the other hand this girl lives with the father of her child and they are not married, so she filed her case for just her and the baby as not sharing food. The father works and owns the house they all live in, if she wasn’t truthful about that situation could that be the reason the food stamps stopped?


    1. I don’t have a way to know what happened, since it sounds like multiple people may not have been accurately reporting their living situations. I think that kind of situation would usually lead to some kind of investigation.


  20. Hi I am 19 years old. I have a 2 year old daughter and 1 month old son, we live with my kids father (age 20), his parents and his sister and her 3 kids. My boyfriends sister has her own case. My children ,boyfriend and I prepare our meals separately && help pay bills. Do I have to be 22 to open my own case, or I would have to add my in laws?


    1. I’m sorry for the delayed response. I don’t think your age matters. Your boyfriend would need to be 22. If he is 20, I think you and your kids and inlaws are all one food stamps household. If sister is 22, she might be separate.


  21. I am a retired senior living on $1100 month social security. My mortgage and utilities use it all. I qualified for food stamps 4 years ago as I lived alone. Two years ago, my destitute sister moved in. She had no income and was 60 years old, and I could not afford to feed her. I was able to add her to my SNAP account and the dollar amount on my card was doubled, assigning half for her and half for me. I wasn’t asked anything about sharing food. We do not share food as our diet needs are totally different. We also cook and eat at different times of the day. Each week we go grocery shopping but check out separately, and that is documented on the EBT card history. Soon she will get her own social security income of around $700 month. Since she is documented as actually being a separate household, will we be better off clarifying that and getting separate food stamp accounts? I am concerned that if they add her social security to mine it will disqualify us both. How can she apply on her own if she is already on my account? If she submits her own application will they automatically take her off my account and put her in her own account? Or do I need to remove her from my account first? Would she then get no money for food while they took a month to consider her application? Thank you for any suggestions.


    1. Good questions.

      Maximum food stamp for one person is $192 and two people is $352. So two separate accounts sometimes adds up to slightly higher.

      I do not know the answer if she will lose food stamps while her application is processing. They may prorate part of the month. Perhaps you can ask your caseworker this.

      I am not certain the policy. I would check with your food stamps caseworker. You might request a form to have her removed from your food stamps account, and then she can apply on her own. If your food is separate you can both indicate this in writing on the forms.

      Is she applying for disability or early retirement?

      If you are not already doing so, some areas offer property tax relief for seniors. You may be able to also apply for utility assistance (though I am not certain if her income puts you over the limit for that).


  22. I’m a stay at home mother to 3 children. (All in their teens). My husband (their father) refuses to ask his boss for check stubs to prove income verification so that we can apply for food stamps AND medicaid. He doesn’t want to be on government assistance and will not pay for health insurance through his employer because “it costs too much!”. We are having a hard time with him actually buying groceries for us. When he does, it’s only meats for meals at night. He eats out for breakfast and lunch and just drinks beer all night until he goes to sleep. He keeps all of his financial information hidden from me and even brags to the guys at work about not giving me any money for groceries or anything in general. ( a co-workers wife heard about this and contacted me). I am currently in school for a career skill so that we can get out of this mess. But, do you know if I would be able to apply for food stamps without his approval and income verification? I can’t afford to leave him and take the kids at the moment.


    1. I am very sorry your comment got lost in our system. I am worried for you and your children in this situation. Are you able to see this response? Are you still in the same situation?


  23. I’m 24 years old and have been living back with my dad the last 3 years. I have no income so he has had to shop for my groceries though I keep them separately stored and cook my own meals separate from his. And I usually do go to the store with him to grab what I need it’s just I have no way of paying for my own stuff yet so I have to share his cart. This also means I limit what I get so as not to burden his wallet as much, whereas if I were to have SNAP benefits I would be shopping for myself instead and not share carts or purchases. Do I need to list him as part of my household?


    1. He would not be considered part of your SNAP household. In most states, he would not be listed at all, but you can check with a food stamps caseworker to see how they would like you to do it.

      Many people enclose a note, or write in the remarks section at the end to clarify that they live with another person but will be purchasing/preparing food separately.

      Your dad can still shop for you if you wish, as long as food is kept separate, there is usually a place on the form to add him as a shopper/authorized representative.


  24. My daughter is 19, receives SSI and lives at home. She rents a room from us and, purchases and stores food separately and most of the time, dines separately. She is considered a separate household. Since she lives at home with us, do I have to include her dad and I on the SNAP application as part of her household? Thanks.
    (Sorry if double post – I wasn’t sure it posted 1st time because I couldn’t login!)


  25. Hello. I am 20 years old and I have a 9 month old daughter. We live with her grandma who pays bills but we buy, store and cook our food separately. Would I have to add her on to my food stamps ?


    1. As far as I know, your grandmother would not be part of your food stamps account in this situation. When you talk to your caseworker, just let them know what you wrote above.


  26. I hope to clarify a few questions by listing the ones that I can answer.
    1. Illegal immigrants are NOT eligible for TANF, SNAP, or Medical benefits for pregnant mothers & children under 21
    2. Absent, undocumented, non custodial parent IS responsible for sharing the financial burden of their child/children living in the same household or not. Either disclose it up front (be honest) or sometime in the future family services Dept has the right to seek back payment from the absent parent. It has even happened in cases when child care is paid for by the state. The case worker may/may not explain that this is possible. It is best to ask any & all questions.


    1. My friend lives with her youngest childs father, having 2 other children with a different father, but is pretty sure the youngest childs father has a warrant for violation of probation because they did not have reliable transportation to get back and forth to probation, will she still be required to include him on her application as a household member? Will they allow him to be included since there is a specific question pertaining to someone fleeing the law? How does that work? Will the law come and get him on the warrant? He is sick with a rare type of low blood sugar and needs to actually go to the dr. She wants to fill out an application for assistance in Florida but came across these questions. She lost her job and is unable to feed her 3 children, and he became sick with his blood sugar dropping very often just for being stressed out.


      1. Hi Kayce,

        I’m very sorry to say I do not know the answer to warrant questions. Would it be possible for them to consult with legal aid in her area to get more input?

        For food stamps, if they live together, I believe she would be required to list him because they are both parents to a child in the home.

        I wish I could be more help, but I am afraid I just do not know much in this area. Very much hope she can find a way to get the help she needs.


  27. My husband and I live together. I work 20 hours a week and he’s a foreigner so he can’t even work right now and has zero income until we save enough money for his green card application, which will be for quite a while. Is there anyway I can claim him on the food stamp application? Right now I only get SNAP for myself. I talked to my local agency in MA but they denied him and said he has to be a 5 year plus citizen but a friend of mine in Florida in the same situation was able to get SNAP for his household of two. Is there anyway you an think of to help? Would really appreciate it.


  28. Hello. I am 28 years old and have a 1 year old child, unmarried. I live in California. Me and my son live with with his great grandma. I’m separated from the father but he lives in the same house, different rooms, and we DO NOT buy or prepare any meals together. All my food is pit in a different location as well as my own fridge. Am I required to add him to the application? Even though, we are completely separate from everything? Thank you .


  29. I am disabled. The father of my child lives with me as my live in aid. We are not married, we are not boyfriend and girlfriend. He is Albanian and buys and prepares his own food separately because he eats a totally different kind of food than what I cook for myself and the child. Because he is the child’s father they automatically put him on my case and used his income to cut my foodstamps. After reading this article, if I make them aware of how our food is purchased and prepared separately will they still be able to use his income just because he is the father of my child? Note he is not listed on her state birth certificate nor has there been a DNA test proving he is the father.


    1. I’m sorry I don’t know how the state determines who is the parent of a child. However, if he is legally your child’s father and he lives with you, then you must all be on the same SNAP account.


  30. What would be the process for a husband and wife with children and one spouse lives in an apartment next door alone, but all prepare meals and eat together? It is a married living separate situation.. but NOT legally separated. Are they considered one household or two, because of the second address?


    1. Hi B, I’m sorry I don’t know what decision they would make about this situation. I would just explain the situation to the food stamps worker when you apply. Maybe apply on the phone or in person so you can explain?


  31. I need help I’m a married mother to an immigrant and I have a child age 6years. We all live together but me and my daughter share food together and he purchases and eats separately from us. We eat together but very different kind of foods? Will I be able to apply for just me and my daughter I’m 25years old?


  32. I need help I’m a married mother to an immigrant and I have a child age 6years. We all live together but me and my daughter share food together and he purchases and eats separately from us. We eat together but very different kind of foods? Will I be able to apply for just me and my daughter I’m 25years old?


  33. After reading all the helpful comments. I want to get clarification. I live with my mom. And she pays for all the bills except for my food. So my understanding. I do not include her on the application. Such as her income and person living in the household. Is that correct ? Thank you!!


  34. Hi I live with my father and have no income of my own and he makes $800 a month from his retirement but does not work. I already applied for food stamps with my dad online but we don’t share food. I eat specific food for my health and never touch what my dad purchases. Should I specify this information at my interview to get more money for food?


    1. If you are over age 21, you can apply together on one account, or your father could apply for his own account separately from you if he wishes. I don’t know which way would be higher, since they also take into account other factors, such as how much rent each person pays.


  35. Hi I’ve been doing this as of late, but now my roommate bought a rental for him and I. I am not worried about foods stamps being processed separately now, but I’m afraid of my children and I losing our Medicaid since we’ll be moving in together officially. I’m unemployed and my roommate is on disability and receives SSI and Medicare separately, while I get child support: will my children and I lose our Medicaid when I report this big move?


    1. Hi Bethany,

      The medicaid rules are different in every state and each state has multiple different programs. So I don’t know the answer to this.

      I have never heard of a Medicaid program where you are supposed to include roommates you are not related to as part of your application. You would need to check the rules in your state to be sure though.

      It would be a good idea to find out if your roommate is on SSI or SSDI. For SSI, your living arrangements and agreements might affect his benefits. For SSDI, no effect. Hope this helps.


    1. My understanding is that when you apply, you are automatically assigned to someone. I believe this is true in all states? They may use a different job title in some places, like “eligibility worker” or “benefits specialist”.

      If you are already on food stamps, perhaps you can call and ask who your caseworker is, or you may be able to send a message to your worker on the website.


  36. In the above article How to SNAP: Household Rules, it states under
    What is the correct way to store food separately?
    As far as we know, food stamps does not have regulations about this. If your food is separate from others you live with, you can store your food in the way that works for you. Some people keep a private refrigerator in their rooms, some people share a refrigerator, but have a designated shelf and cupboard, some people label their food. If you have a separate food stamps account, make sure everyone you live with is aware that your food is separate.

    From this (and also what I was told at the food stamp office), you are supposed to store your food separately. The point is that labeling or making sure your food is separated is such a hassle that we just don’t do it. If you buy food with your own money, you don’t need to do that, or worry about “sharing” food! This sounds like another attempt by the government to invade your private life, even if it is just a threat.


  37. My son and I get a bare minimum of food stamps separately, but more than we would together. We usually do eat separate food, however we share things like milk. And he likes pizza more than I do, but I will have ONE slice most of the time. The concern I’m having is “storing your food separately.” It’s a hassle, and the ONLY reason to do it, that I’ve been able to figure out, is that they could stop by (unannounced, I assume) to check if you’re doing that. NOBODY has EVER stopped by, and frankly, I sincerely doubt they do. They’re overworked as it is, and we live in this donkey-ass town about 30 miles from the food stamp office anyway. We get so little food stamps anyway, we could just say they were bought with our own money, which we usually do anyway. Any thoughts on this?


    1. Hi celeste,

      I think the easiest thing to do is look at the rules in your state and the language on the food stamps application. In most states, the rules don’t require your food to be 100% separate. Most food stamps forms say food is “usually” separate, some have states have specific rules about number of meals per week.


    2. I don’t know where you live but I was told an easy way to prove that it is separate is to put your names on the boxes, bags, cans etc. That way if for any reason someone should stop by you can prove it is separate. I use a big black sharpie marker and put my initial on the item.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Actually, that IS how we stored them separately, by putting our names on them. But again, if you do that ALL the time, it becomes such a hassle. It may not sound like it would, but trust me, it did. I just don’t worry about it anymore. If they would ever want to make a big deal out of under $50 in food stamps a month, then let them!


  38. I am disabled and make 1000 a month. After rent, Dr bills etc.. I am broke. There is nothing left. I applied as myself. Jerk roommate knew how to work the system and had a fake address and I had to pay for a PO box which kinda didn’t make sense as it cost more than the
    16.00 I got per month!
    I have since moved to find out the people I rent from get alot of foodstamps but told me I cant apply with this address! At least I can get my mail here!
    I know or heard of people that get 200 dollars and work!
    I seriously cant afford healthy meals as I try to stretch my food budget. I am pre-diabetic and my Drs just don’t get that I am starving and can’t afford to eat! I get so hungry after days of crackers or rice that I cant form a logical sentence or function!
    I don’t understand the people that work the system while I’m honest and get to starve while they sell theirs for drugs and cigs etc…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m not sure what your living situation is, but there are no food stamps rules that would prevent you from using the address where you live, or make you use a p.o. box.

      The people who are telling you that you can’t apply probably are not familiar with the regulations.

      If other people you live with also get food stamps, you are allowed apply separately from them and request your own food stamps account – It will depend whether or not your food is shared, so make sure to let the caseworker know your living situation and arrangement.


      1. I have just been approved for food stamps in Florida. I live with my boyfriend who lost his job. Our bills total over $2,000 a month, not counting food costs or gas or auto. I informed my caseworker that I currently make $1,600 without deductions. I was told my boyfriend would have to apply on his own because we’re not married yet.

        We were given….$15. To live on. For a month.
        What can I do? I don’t want us to starve or be homeless.


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