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SNAP (Food Stamp) Benefits for Disabled Young Adults Living at Home

By Karen B. Mariscal

Massachusetts funds the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, to assist low income households with affording food. While an individual can qualify for SNAP benefits upon reaching the majority age of 18, there are certain nuances that disabled young adults living at home with their parents should be aware of before applying for this program.


Disability Test

Under SNAP, you are considered disabled if you receive:

  • Supplemental Security Income, or SSI benefits;
  • Social Security Disability Income, or SSDI benefits;
  • EAEDC benefits, based on a severe disability;
  • Certain disability retirement pensions, if you have a disability that meets the SSI criteria,
  • Railroad retirement disability benefits;
  • Veteran’s disability benefits, depending on severity of disability, or veteran’s benefits for a spouse or children;
  • MassHealth for persons with disabilities; or
  • TAFDC benefits and you are exempt from the TAFDC time limits based on a severe disability.

If I qualify, how much will I receive?


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Household Test

SNAP benefits are distributed based on household. In order to be eligible for SNAP benefits, a household must qualify as a whole under certain tests (the Gross Income Test, the Net Income Test, and the Asset Test). A household is defined as a group of people who live under the same roof and buy and prepare food for 11 or more meals per week. A child under the age of 22 who lives with his or her parents is considered to be in the same household as his or her parents, so if the family income is too high, the child will not be eligible for SNAP. Disabled individuals over 22 who are unable to purchase and prepare their own food may be eligible for SNAP benefits even if the live at home with their parents. This is the case as long as the majority of the food they consume is purchased with their income and prepared separately from the rest of the family, which can be burdensome for some families.

Income and Asset Tests

Eligibility is complicated, and for that reason Massachusetts offers an on-line screening tool.

To briefly summarize, if everyone in the household is on SSI, the residents do not have to meet any income or asset tests. If not, households with an intellectually disabled person don’t have to meet gross income limits, but they do have to meet net income limits. Net income is gross income minus allowable dedications. In order to qualify for SNAP, the disabled household must have a net income below 100% of the federal poverty level, which currently is $981 a month for a single person, and $1,328 for two people. Households with a disabled person that have gross income above 200% of the federal poverty level must also pass an asset test in order to qualify for SNAP. In order to meet this test, the household assets must be below $3,250.

Implications of SNAP Tests on Disabled Young Adults under the age of 22

Disabled young adults living at home between the ages of 18 and 22 generally have very limited income from their SSI benefits. Even so, these individuals will probably not qualify for SNAP benefits because of how the various SNAP eligibility tests are structured. These tests group children under 22 as being in the same household with their parents if they live with their parents, which is a reality for the majority of disabled young adults. As such, the income of the disabled young adult’s parents are taken into consideration and most likely disqualify the household as a whole from receiving SNAP benefits.

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