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Opting out of Food Stamps/ SNAP -- Immigration Status


USDA requires states to make sure their SNAP applications allow a household to “opt out” any person who does not wish to receive SNAP benefits or give information on their citizenship/immigrant status or Social Security Number (SSN). current version of Massachusetts’ online (a.k.a. Virtual Gateway) application allows a household to complete an application without including all household members. Further, online SNAP fields asking about citizenship and SSN are not mandatory. But the questions asked and instructions in the online application do not include enough information to help an immigrant household know how to “opt in” or “opt out”, and do not explain the reason for or uses of the SSN. The SNAP web application for mixed immigrant status households can be confusing!

Attached is some guidance from MLRI on how to work through the on-line application, as well as an explanation of the "mixed household" SNAP calculation that highlights why it helps clients who have legal status to provide information on their status, even if they opt out. These considerations are also true for households going through the paper or in-person application process.

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