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SNAP Eligibility: Elderly and Disabled Residents

Eligibility for Elderly and Disabled Resident
The District of Columbia (District) Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) program has special rules for households with elderly or disabled members.  If your household does not have elderly or disabled members, you should review general SNAP eligibility.

Federal rules for SNAP define elderly as an individual who is 60 years or older.  To be considered disabled for SNAP purposes, an individual must meet one of the following criteria:

  • Receiving federal disability or blindness payments under the Social Security Act, including Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security disability or blindness payments. OR
  • Receiving state disability or blindness payments based on SSI rules including the District’s Interim Disability Assistance (IDA). OR
  • Receiving a disability retirement benefit from a governmental agency because of a permanent disability. OR
  • Receiving an annuity under the Railroad Retirement Act and are eligible for Medicare or are considered disabled under SSI. OR
  • A veteran who is totally disabled, permanently homebound, or in need of regular aid and attendance. OR

SNAP Household
A household is everyone who lives together and purchases and prepares meals together as a group.  Spouses and most children under age 22 are automatically included in the same SNAP household even if they purchase and prepare meals separately.

If a person is 60 years of age or older and unable to purchase and prepare meals separately because of a permanent disability, the person and the person's spouse may be a separate SNAP household if the others they live with do not have very much income (no more than 165 percent of the poverty level).

Normally you are not eligible for SNAP benefits if an institution gives you most of your meals. However, there is one exception for elderly persons and one for disabled persons:

  • Residents of federally subsidized housing for the elderly may be eligible for SNAP benefits, even if they receive their meals at the facility.
  • Disabled persons who live in certain nonprofit group living arrangements (small group homes with no more than 16 residents) may be eligible for SNAP benefits, even if the group home prepares their meals for them.

SNAP Income Limits
In general, each SNAP household member’s income is counted together and compared to the income limits to determine eligibility.  Income includes money earned from a job or self-employment and money received from sources like the United States Social Security Administration (SSA) or retirement.

Households with a person(s) age 60 years or older or a person with a disability only need to meet the net monthly income limit (see Table 1 below).

  • Net income means a SNAP household’s total gross income minus allowable deductions

If the SNAP household receives Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) cash benefits, TANF non-cash benefits, or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) the SNAP household is considered categorically eligible for SNAP.  Categorical eligibility for SNAP means the household has already been determined eligible for another means-tested program.  Most District residents applying for SNAP are determined categorically eligible.

Table 1: SNAP Net Monthly Income Limits by Household Size
(Elderly & Disabled Households)

The below income limits are set by the Federal government and are subject to change each October 1. The net monthly income limit is set at 100 percent of the FPL.

Effective October 1, 2021 – September 30, 2022

Household Size

Maximum Net
Monthly Income
(100% FPL)

1

$1,074

2

$1,452

3

$1,830

4

$2,209

5

$2,587

6

$2,965

7

$3,344

8

$3,722

Each Additional Member

+$379

 

Deductions
To determine a SNAP household’s monthly net income, there are certain allowable deductions that are subtracted from the household’s gross monthly income. Some of the deduction amounts are set by the Federal government and are subject to change each October 1.

  • 20 percent deduction is applied to earned income (e.g., money from a job or self-employment).
  • A standard deduction is applied to all SNAP households.  The standard deduction is $177 for households with 1 to 3 individuals, $184 for households with 4 individuals, $215 for households of 5 individuals, and $246 for households with 6 or more individuals (this may be higher for some larger households).
  • A dependent care deduction when needed for work, training, or education.
  • Legally owed child support payments.
  • Excess shelter costs that are more than half of the household’s income after all other deductions have been applied.  The excess shelter deduction is capped at $597 unless one person in the household is elderly or disabled. Each household receives a standard utility allowance deduction of $322, which is updated every October 1, to account for utility costs such as fuel, electricity, and water.  In addition to the standard, a household can claim the following allowable shelter costs:
    • Rent or mortgage payments and interest
    • Taxes on the home
  • Medical expenses for elderly or disabled members in excess of $35 for the month if they are not paid by insurance or someone else.  See below for more details.

Excess Medical Expense Deduction
Households with a person(s) age 60 years or older or a person with a disability can also deduct out-of-pocket medical expenses of more than $35 monthly. Payments made by insurance or someone else cannot be counted.

Allowable costs include:

  • most medical and dental expenses, such as doctor bills, prescription drugs, and other over-the-counter medication when approved by a doctor;
  • dentures, inpatient and outpatient hospital expenses; and
  • nursing care.

They also include other medically related expenses such as:

  • certain transportation costs;
  • attendant care; and
  • health insurance premiums.
    The costs of special diets are not allowable medical costs.

Households with an elderly or disabled member are encouraged to claim the excess medical expense deduction when they are applying or recertifying for SNAP for any allowable medical costs. You will need to provide us copies of receipts or bills for allowable medical costs.   

Resource Limits
Resources are things like bank accounts, money market funds, certificates of deposit, and stock and bonds. Some things never count, such as the value of the home. Most District residents applying for SNAP are determined categorically eligible and do not have a limit on resources.

If you apply for SNAP, the District will review your information to determine if a resource limit applies.

For households that have a resource limit, households may have $2,500 in countable resources. If the household includes a person who is age 60 or older or a person who has a disability, the resources limit is $3,750. Resource limits are set by the Federal government and are subject to change each October 1.

Certification Period
Households approved for SNAP are assigned a certification period.  The certification period is the length of time you will receive benefits.  In some cases, a certification period may end early if there is a change in circumstances that makes the household ineligible (e.g. receiving an increase in earned or unearned income).

SNAP households in which all members are elderly and/or disabled will receive a 24-month certification period if there is no earned income or a 12-month certification period if the household has earned income. 

Throughout the certification period, households are required to report specific changes.  If the household wishes to continue receiving SNAP at the end of the certification period, the household will need to complete the recertification process.  Learn more about these ongoing eligibility requirements.

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