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Categorical Eligibility

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What is Categorical Eligibility?

Some SNAP households get very confusing DTA notices when they are under the gross income limits but qualify for $0 in SNAP benefits. The DTA notices say:

“Because your countable income is over the limit for your household size, you are not eligible for SNAP benefits at this time. We will keep your case open until DATE in case there is a change in your household's circumstances that qualifies you for benefits.”

This happens to households that have:

  • Three or more persons
  • Income below 200% poverty level
  • BUT 30% of the household’s net income (gross income minus the allowable deductions) is greater than the maximum SNAP benefit amount for that household.

Households that meet these criteria are considered Categorically Eligible for $0 in SNAP benefits

Categorical Eligibility FAQ's

If you report any changes during your certification period that will now make you eligible for SNAP benefits greater than $0, you do not need to file a new SNAP application and have an interview. You only need to verify the change (e.g. decrease in your income, increased expenses, a new baby or other household member) that will now make you eligible for a dollar amount.

While your household’s SNAP benefits are $0, you still qualify for other programs SNAP recipients are entitled to. This includes:

  • Utility discounts, including internet and fuel assistance
  • SNAP Path to Work free education and training opportunities
  • EBT Card to Culture – discounted admissions to many Massachusetts museums and cultural institutions
  • Free nutrition education classes and resources

Learn more about some of these other benefits of SNAP here.

Project Bread is an official SNAP Outreach Partner of The Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA).

As a SNAP Outreach Partner of DTA, Project Bread's role is to make it easier for people in Massachusetts to get SNAP and help anyone having trouble applying.