09. How do I apply if I live in a group home, substance abuse center or teen program?

Group home residents

If you live in a licensed group home for persons with disabilities, you may be eligible for SNAP benefits as a one person household even though you live with others and share common meals. 106 C.M.R. § 361.240(B).  A licensed group home is one licensed by the state as a community-based residential facility and that has no more than 16 residents living there at a time. 106 C.M.R. § 365.640.

Some group homes act as the Authorized Representative for residents, especially those run by the Mass Department of Developmental Services (DDS) and, in some cases, group homes run by Mass Department of Mental Health (DMH). This means a group home manager may file a SNAP application for residents and/or the group home receives the EBT card for the resident.

Some group homes that are more transitional (short term) may have residents apply for SNAP and buy and prepare their own food. Some group homes have point of sale (POS) devices that allow the group home to swipe benefits off the EBT cards of residents to collect money for common food.

If you are not already getting SNAP when you join the group home, the group home must make an individual determination whether or not you can handle your own affairs, such as managing your cash or SNAP benefits.

If the group home determines that you do not have the physical or mental ability to handle your own affairs, the group home will file an application for SNAP on your behalf (act as an authorized representatives to do your SNAP application). 

If you apply for your own SNAP, you can choose whether to have the group home transact (keep) your EBT card to buy food or if you want to keep your own EBT card to make and buy your own food. See 7 C.F.R. 273.11(f).

Residents of substance abuse disorder treatment centers

If you are a resident of a licensed substance abuse disorder treatment program, the SNAP rules say that the treatment program must be your Authorized Representative. 106 C.M.R. § 365.610.  Even if you apply for SNAP on your own, you must transfer your EBT card to the treatment program for food purchases while you are staying there.

“Sober houses” typically provide room and meals for adults transitioning from a treatment program and/or referred by a court or probation officer. Sober houses may be regulated at the local level but usually are not licensed or regulated by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. If you live in a “sober house” or other roomer/board situation not licensed by the Department of Public Health, the sober house cannot take your EBT card unless you voluntarily appoint them as your authorized representative to transact SNAP on your behalf.

Note: Drug and alcohol treatment centers and group homes are responsible for any SNAP overpayments that happen while the person getting SNAP is a resident of the treatment center or group home. 106 C.M.R. §365.650.The only exception is if a group home resident applied for SNAP on their own, then the resident is responsible for any over-issuance. 7 C.F.R 273.11(f)(6).

Residents of teen living programs

If you are living in a teen parent program, the program is given the authority to decide if it will be the authorized representative and receive the SNAP benefits, or if it will allow you to apply for and spend the benefits yourself. 106 C.M.R. § 365.620(B).

When leaving a residential program

After you leave a group home or treatment center, the program must return your EBT card to you.

If you do not have an EBT card in your name, they should help you get one. When you leave, the group home or treatment center must give you back SNAP benefits in the following ways:

  • If they have not yet used any of your SNAP for the month, they must return your entire monthly allotment.
  • If they have already used some of your SNAP for the month but you leave before the 16th of the month, the program must give you back half of your allotment. If you leave after the 16th and the program has already used your SNAP for that month, you may not get any SNAP back.

For the rules on how your EBT benefits should be restored to you, see 7 CFRC.F.R. 273.11(e)(6) and (f)(5).

Contact the DTA Ombuds office or MLRI at info@masslegalservices.org if you do not get back your EBT card or a portion of your benefits.

DTA Online Guide

See Appendix G for links to the DTA's BEACON 5 Online Guide for this section.