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

Produced by Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Reviewed March 2023

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 institutions. 106 C.M.R §361.240(A) and (B).

However, there are a number of exceptions that permit residents of certain institutions to receive SNAP. 106 C.M.R.§361.240(B). You may still be eligible for SNAP if you live in the following settings:

  • federally subsidized housing for the elderly,
  • a group home that serve persons with disabilities and have less than 16 residents
  • a shelter for homeless individuals or families and shelters for victims of domestic violence
  • a teen parents living program, or
  • a drug or alcohol substance use treatment center (public or nonprofit). The center will require you to make them an authorized representative during your stay. If you move from the residential program, program should give you your EBT card and immediately report the change of address to DTA to ensure your SNAP benefits continue if you are still SNAP eligible. See How do I apply if I 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: A battered person who moves to a Domestic Violence shelter can receive their own SNAP benefits, even if they are still on the SNAP grant of the abuser from whom they fled. 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). However, Social Security or other income received for the care of a child in an institution is not countable to the rest of the 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.

Show DTA Policy Guidance

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