🧡 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 HOUSEHOLD RULES
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.
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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