PM 13-01-08-b

Verification of utilities is not required for SNAP. The following bills are considered utilities for SNAP: heat, electricity, cooking fuel, water and/or sewerage, garbage collection fees, basic telephone service (including cell phones), well installation and maintenance, septic tank installation and maintenance, a fee for starting utility service, and a flat amount for utilities. A SNAP unit that pays a flat amount for utilities must specify what utility expenses are incurred to allow the appropriate standard.

  • When 2 or more SNAP units live together and share utility expenses, determine which standard (Air Conditioning/Heating Standard, Limited Utility Standard, Single Utility Standard, or Telephone Standard) is required. Allow the appropriate standard to each unit that contributes toward any of the allowable utility costs of the residence, whether or not all people living together receive SNAP benefits.
  • Do not allow a standard if an SNAP unit's utility expenses are paid by vendor payment.
  • The presence of a qualifying member in the unit does not automatically qualify the unit for any of the standard amounts.

Deciding What to Allow for Utilities for SNAP

The use of a utility standard is required when an SNAP unit is billed for utilities separately from rent or mortgage. Follow the steps in the chart below to determine which standard to allow. Allow the appropriate standard to each SNAP unit. Do not allow an expense paid by vendor payment.

  • Step 1. The SNAP unit qualifies for the Air Conditioning/Heating Standard ($380) if the unit:
    • revised textreceives or have received a LIHEAP payment of $21 or more during the month of application or in any of the last 12 months; or  
    • billed for heat and/or air conditioning, or excess cost for heat and/or air conditioning.

If the unit does not qualify under Step 1, go to Step 2.

  •  Step 2. The SNAP unit qualifies for the Limited Utility Standard ($226) if:
    • billed for at least 2 of the following utilities:
      • electricity (without air conditioning or heat)
      • cooking fuel
      • water and/or sewerage
      • garbage
      • basic phone service (including cell phone)
      • well installation and maintenance
      • septic tank installation and maintenance
      • a fee for starting utility service (SNAP unit must specify what utilities are incurred to allow the appropriate standard.)
      • a flat amount for utilities (SNAP unit must specify what utilities are incurred to allow the appropriate standard.)

If the unit does not qualify under Step 2, go to Step 3.

  • Step 3. The SNAP unit qualifies for the Single Utility Standard ($50) if:
    • billed for 1 of the following utilities:  Note:  Does not include telephone.
      • electricity (without air conditioning or heat)
      • cooking fuel
      • water and/or sewerage
      • garbage
      • well installation and maintenance
      • septic tank installation and maintenance
      • a fee for starting utility service (SNAP unit must specify what utilities are incurred to allow the appropriate standard.)
      • a flat amount for utilities (SNAP unit must specify what utilities are incurred to allow the appropriate standard.)

If the unit does not qualify under Step 3, go to Step 4.

  • Step 4. Allow the Telephone Standard ($28) if:
    • the unit's only utility expense is for the basic service of a telephone, including cell phone.

Air Conditioning/Heating Standard

  • Allow the Air Conditioning/Heating Standard of $380 for a SNAP unit who is receiving or have received a payment of $21 or more during the month of application or in the past 12 months from LIHEAP.
  • If the SNAP unit is billed for electricity that includes air conditioning or heat, or for heat that is not electric, use the Air Conditioning/Heating Standard.
  • Use the Air Conditioning/Heating Standard when utilities are included in the rent, but the SNAP unit is billed for the excess cost of heat and/or air conditioning.

revised textExample 1: Mr. B files a SNAP application in March 10. During the interview Mr. B states he received a LIHEAP payment of $100 on March 3. Allow Mr. B the Air Conditioning/Heating Standard.

revised textExample 2: Ms. C received a LIHEAP payment of $100 in January. On March 10, Ms. C files a SNAP application and indicates on the her application that she received a LIHEAP payment in January of more than $21. Allow the Air Conditioning Heating Standard.

Example 3: Mr. and Mrs. L rent an apartment. The landlord charges rent of $90 a month and also charges monthly for heat. Allow the Air Conditioning/Heating Standard.

Example 4: Ms. D reports that all utilities are included in her rent. During the summer the landlord charges $5 per month for air conditioning. Because of the excess charge, Ms. D qualifies for the Air Conditioning/Heating Standard year-round.

Limited Utility Standard

 If the SNAP unit is billed for at least 2 utilities, use the Limited Utility Standard of $226. Allow the Limited Utility Standard when the SNAP unit is billed for electricity that does not include air conditioning or heat and at least one other utility.

Example 1: Ms. B pays rent which includes heat. Ms. B is billed by the utility company for electricity and water. She does not have air conditioning. Allow the Limited Utility Standard.

Example 2: Ms. C pays rent which includes electric, gas, and water. Ms. C pays for garbage and a telephone separately from rent. Allow the Limited Utility Standard.

Single Utility Standard

Allow the Single Utility Standard of $50 when the SNAP unit is only billed for 1 utility. This expense cannot be for a telephone, air conditioning, or heat.

Example: Ms. C reports that her shelter costs are rent of $175 per month and electricity of $54 per month. She does not have a telephone or air conditioning and is not charged for heat. Allow the Single Utility Standard.

Telephone Standard

The Telephone Standard is $28 per month. Allow this standard if the SNAP unit is billed only for a telephone, including cell phone. The unit must be billed for the basic service of the phone. Do not allow the Telephone Standard for phone calls made from a pay phone, for charges for long distance service, for pagers, or for phone cards.

Example 1: Mr. and Mrs. H have a cellular phone which includes a fee for basic service. They incur no other utility bills. They qualify for use of the Telephone Standard.

Example 2: Ms. B is age 30, lives with her parents but claims separate SNAP unit status. Her parents live in their own home and are billed for all utilities. Ms. B incurs an expense only for her cell phone. Because Ms. B does not contribute to any other utility expense, she only qualifies for the Telephone Standard.

Example 3: Mr. R rents an apartment which includes all utilities, but has no phone. There is a pay phone in the hall that he uses for his calls. Mr. R does not qualify for use of the Telephone Standard.

Multiple Units Sharing Utility Expenses

Example 1: Mr. A and Ms. B and her 4 children share an apartment but are separate SNAP units. Each unit contributes a share of the rent and utilities. Although the heat bill is in Mr. A's name, Ms. B is paying a share of the bill. Give each unit the full Air Conditioning/Heating Standard.

Example 2: Ms. F, Ms. G, and Ms. K share an apartment. They are applying for SNAP as separate SNAP units. Ms. F and Ms. G share the expense of the electric bill. They do not have air conditioning and are not billed for heat. Ms. K pays for her cell phone only. Ms. F and Ms. G each qualify for the Single Utility Standard. Allow Ms. K the Telephone Standard.

Example 3: Mr. D and Ms. E share a house but are separate SNAP units. Mr. D is billed for heat, telephone, and water. Ms. E pays the telephone bill including basic service. Mr. D is allowed the Air Conditioning/Heating Standard when determining the amount of his SNAP benefits. Ms. E is entitled to the Telephone Standard.

Example 4: Ms. C is age 23 and lives with her parents but claims separate SNAP unit status. Ms. C gives her parents $50 per month for utilities which includes heat. Allow the Air Conditioning/Heating Standard when determining the amount of Ms. C's SNAP benefits.

Example 5: Ms. S, Ms. J, and Ms. T rent separate apartments in a house that is divided into 3 apartments. All utilities are included in the rent except heat. The heat bill is in Ms. J's name. Each unit pays a share of the heat bill. Give each SNAP unit the entire Air Conditioning/Heating Standard.

Example 6: Ms. A, Mr. B, and Ms. C rent an apartment together. They share rent and telephone expenses. Ms. A, Mr. B, and Ms. C are each separate SNAP units. Allow the full Telephone Standard for each of the 3 units.

Example 7: Ms. K and her sister Ms. B share an apartment but are separate SNAP units. They share utility expenses. They do not have air conditioning and are not billed for heat. Ms. K pays for electricity and garbage. Ms. B pays for water only. Ms. K qualifies for the Limited Utility Standard. Ms. B is entitled to the Single Utility Standard.