The following examples show how SNAP unit policy applies to different family situations.
Example 1: Mrs. Q lives with her 25 year old daughter. She buys food and prepares meals separately from her daughter. Mrs. Q and her daughter each qualify as separate SNAP units because they buy and prepare food separately.
Example 2: Mrs. S moves in with her sister and they share housing expenses. They buy and prepare food separately because Mrs. S works nights. Mrs. S and her sister are separate SNAP units because they buy and prepare food separately.
Example 3: Ms. W and her child receive TANF. Ms. W reported that her child's father, Mr. M, moved into the home. Ms. W states that she buys and prepares food separately from Mr. M. Ms. W and Mr. M are not married and Mr. M's name is not listed on her child's birth certificate. Since paternity has not been legally established, Mr. M cannot be added to the TANF case.
Since Ms. W states that Mr. M is her child's father, Ms. W, her child, and Mr. M must all be included in the same SNAP unit.
Example 4: Ms. R, age 16, lives with Mrs. X. Mrs. X is not Ms. R's mother. Ms. R is under Mrs. X's parental control, and does not have a husband or child living with her. Ms. R does not qualify as a separate FS unit because she is under Mrs. X's parental control.
Example 5: Mrs. Z and her 19 year old daughter live together. The daughter buys and prepares food separately for herself and her child. Mrs. Z's daughter does not qualify as a separate SNAP unit because she is under age 22.
Parents and Children Living Together But Claiming to be Separate
When a parent(s) and child(ren) under age 22 claim to be separate SNAP units because they live separately, but in the same dwelling, grant separate SNAP unit status only if the following conditions are met:
- the living quarters are totally separate, and
- there is no shared living space.
Living quarters can still be considered separate even if there is a shared entrance (e.g., a hallway or stairway).
Example 1: Mr. J, age 20, rents a basement apartment in his parent's house. The entrance to Mr. J's apartment is a shared entrance which leads to a stairway to his apartment. Although the entrance is a shared entrance, the living quarters are entirely separate, so grant Mr. J separate SNAP unit status.
Example 2: Mr. T, age 19, applies for SNAP. He lives at home with his parents and younger brother. He pays his parents $200 a month in rent. He buys and prepares food separately from the rest of the family. His room is on the 2nd floor next to his brother's.
Do not grant Mr. T separate SNAP unit status since his room is not separate from the rest of the house (the kitchen and bathroom for the house are part of his living quarters).
Parents Share Joint Custody of the Child
When parents share joint custody, the child(ren) may be included in the SNAP unit if living at least 50% of the time with the parent that is applying for SNAP if not active on the other parent's case. If a SNAP application is filed at the same time, the parents must decide which unit will include the child.
Example: Mrs. B is applying for SNAP benefits for herself and her child K. Mrs B states she shares joint custody of the child with her ex-husband. The HSC determines that K lives with Mrs. B at least 50% of the time and is not active on another SNAP case. K is included in Mrs. B's SNAP unit.
Temporary Absence from the Home
A child in a TANF cash/SNAP case who does not live in the home is not eligible to be in the SNAP unit, regardless of their eligibility for TANF. This includes children remove from the home by DCFS. The length of the absence is not a factor.
Example 1: Ms. J and her daughter C are one SNAP unit. Ms. J reports that C is going to visit her father during the summer, but will return home in the fall for school. The HSC leaves the child on TANF, but removes C from Ms. J's SNAP unit. C may be added back to the SNAP unit when she returns home if all other eligibility requirements are met.
Example 2: Ms. M has a TANF/SNAP case for herself and her 2 daughters. DCFS sends Notice of Foster Care Placement (CFS 1868) notifying the local office that one child has been removed from the home. The absent child remains on the TANF case, but is no longer eligible to remain in M's SNAP unit. See WAG 04-1-08-a.
Same Sex Marriages and Civil Unions
- Same sex marriages are considered the same as opposite sex marriages. Do not grant separate SNAP unit status, even if food is bought and prepared separately.
- Example: Mr. B and Mr. J are applying for SNAP benefits. Mr. B states that he is married to Mr. J. Consider Mr. B and Mr. J as a married couple and one SNAP unit, even if food is bought and prepared separately.
- Couples who are in a civil union are not considered spouses and may be granted separate SNAP unit status, if food is bought and prepared separately.
- Example: Ms. T and Ms. L live together as civil union partners. Ms. T is applying for SNAP benefits and states she buys and prepares food separately from Ms. L. Grant Ms. T separate SNAP unit status.
- Consider a civil union partner as a parent if the child is born into the civil union. Accept the customer's statement.
- Example 1: Ms. J and Ms. M are in a civil union. They are applying for SNAP benefits for themselves and Ms. J's child born into the civil union. Ms. M buys and prepares food separately from both Ms. J and her child. Since the child was born into the civil union, consider as one SNAP unit, even if food is bought and prepared separately.
- Example 2: Ms. K and her child are receiving SNAP benefits. Ms. K enters into a civil union with Ms. B but claims that she and her daughter buy and prepare meals separately. Since the child was not born into the civil union, Ms. K and her child may be a separate SNAP unit from Ms. D.