Who Is Considered Part of Household for Food Stamp Eligibility?

In this article...
  • Learn about the criteria determining who is considered part of a household for food stamp eligibility. Before applying, there are a few things you should know.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is a U.S. federal government program that provides food assistance to low-income individuals and families. SNAP participants receive food benefits, in the form of food vouchers, which can be used to purchase nutritious food at participating retailers. The food benefits are based on the household's size and income level. Households that meet the program's eligibility requirements can receive food assistance for up to 3 months. This article addresses who is considered part of a household for food stamp eligibility. 

Who Is Considered Part of a Household for Food Stamp Eligibility?

The size of the household influences the monthly allotment and eligibility. Understanding your eligibility requires knowing how to calculate the size of your home. Households are defined differently by different programs. SNAP defines a household as everyone that lives together at an address and organizes meals together. 

While there may be individuals physically residing in your home, they're not considered part of your household for qualifying purposes unless you buy and prepare food as a unit. For example, if you have an adult child who lives in your home but they buy and prepare their own meals, they're not considered a member of your family for SNAP purposes.

Another example is if you rent out a room in your home and a tenant that buys and cooks their own meals; that individual isn't considered a member of your household. Keep in mind that any rent you get from people living in your house must be included in your overall income when you apply for benefits.

What Other Exceptions Are There?

Aside from the types of circumstances outlined above, there are a few other exceptions and general rules that define the SNAP program.

  • Children below the age of 22 are considered household members whether they buy or prepare meals with you or not. Dependent children are not expected to be involved in the purchase or preparation of household meals to be considered eligible for SNAP assistance.
  • Elderly household members who are unable to purchase and prepare meals themselves are still included as part of the official household despite not taking part in meal preparation.
  • You must produce proof verifying that all members of your household are physically residing with you, regardless of who you claim as a member of your home. You will also be required to produce proof of all household revenue.

How Do I Apply for SNAP?

You must apply for SNAP in your current state of residence. Since each state has its own application process, a member of your household must apply directly to your state agency. You can contact your state agency by going to your local SNAP office, going to the SNAP website for your area, or contacting the toll-free SNAP Information hotline for your state. Some states provide online application options.

How Long Does Eligibility Last?

If you're deemed eligible, you'll get a letter stating how long you will be eligible for SNAP benefits. This is known as your certification period. You'll get another notice before your certification term expires stating that you must reapply if you want to continue receiving benefits. Your SNAP office will give you instructions on how to reapply.

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