Why do some households get only $16 in SNAP each month?

Produced by Patricia Baker and Victoria Negus, Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Reviewed January 2020

Federal and state SNAP law allows all 1 and 2 person households under the gross income test to get a minimum benefit. This rule does not apply to households of 3 persons or more. 106 C.M.R. § 364.600(A)

If you only get $16/month – it is a good idea to get a “SNAP math check- up” to be sure you are getting all the deductions you qualify for. Many 1 and 2 person elder and disabled households often do not claim all their out-of-pocket medical expenses.


Tom and Emily Smith are an elderly couple who receive Social Security for a total of $2,050/month unearned income. The Smith’s pay homeownership costs of $1,000 per month plus heat and utilities. The couple has not claimed medical expenses and receives just $16/month in SNAP as a “minimum” benefit. If the Smiths verified medical expenses of at least $36/month, their SNAP would increase to $71. If they verified over $190/month, their SNAP would increase even more.

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