Many people who are homeless, disabled, or living with friends have wondered, “Can I get food stamps if I don’t pay rent?” The answer might surprise you!
Can I get food stamps if I don’t pay rent?
It really depends on the circumstances surrounding why you do not pay rent. There are many different reasons why someone who does not pay for housing may need food stamps benefits. Homeless people, college students, and those who live with family or friends are all examples.
The short answer is yes. You usually can get food stamps if you don’t pay rent, but there are a few exceptions and you won’t get as much as people who do pay rent. We have some tips and tricks that can help with that, though.
Sometimes the answer to “can I get food stamps if I don’t pay rent?” is no.
There are a few housing situations which will make you ineligible for food stamps whether or not you pay rent. It’s important to be aware of these situations.
Boarders are an exception and are not eligible. You are considered a “boarder” if you live with someone else and pay that person for at least half of your weekly meals. If you only pay for a room or live in someone else’s home (but do NOT pay for meals), you are considered a “roomer” and you are eligible.
Young adults who live with parents are not eligible. If you are a young adult who lives with parents, you are usually required to be counted as part of their food stamps household. In most cases, you will have to be at least 22 years old before you can claim food stamps while also living with your parents.
Keep reading below the image to find out how to make the most of food stamps even if you don’t pay rent!
Here’s how to make the most of food stamps if you don’t pay rent.
There are several circumstances that may contribute to why you are not paying rent. However, the unfortunate fact is that a higher housing cost will often translate to higher food stamps payments.
We’ll walk through some of the common scenarios and help you optimize your budget so that you can get the maximum possible benefit from food stamps without committing any fraud whatsoever.
Change how you pay for expenses.
If you are living with friends or family, you may have made an arrangement where you pay for stuff in exchange for free lodging. This is fairly common. However, the “stuff” you pay for will not help you get more food stamps. There are only a handful of bills that actually count toward food stamps.
If you can, switch things around so that you make a rent payment to your friend or family member. They can use that money to pay for the same things you did before and the expenses will actually count toward your food stamps award!
You won’t have to pay anything extra, and the food stamps office will then consider those payments as rent. You will be able to receive more food stamps even though your basically still paying for the same things.
For example, my friend Bob lives in a trailer in his parent’s backyard. He pays half the utilities, as well as the entire Internet bill. He also contributes about $50 in other miscellaneous expenses to the household throughout the month. Instead of paying those things individually, he could pay his parents a rent payment once per month and let them make the individual payments. By doing this, he may receive more food stamps.
Pay what you can, even if it’s ridiculously small.
If you are living with friends and family, you may be able to increase your food stamps payment by making a small rent payment to the people you are staying with. According to Deborah Harris at the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute, a payment of even $10 for rent can have an impact.
I know, I know… this kind of negates the question of “Can I get food stamps if I don’t pay rent?” since technically I’m recommending that you start paying rent…. but the increase in food stamps could more than make up for the amount of rent you pay in cash.
If the person you are living with also receives assistance, make sure to issue these payments directly to the mortgage or rental company so that it doesn’t impact the other person’s benefits.
According to the Massachussetts Legal Help website:
Carol and her child live rent-free with Carol’s mother. Because Carol does not pay rent or utilities, DTA counts $126.30 per month as income to Carol. Carol can avoid having the free rent and utilities counted by paying her mother a small amount each month for rent and utilities (for example, $10). If her mother is on TAFDC (or EAEDC or SSI) Carol can pay the money directly to the mortgage and utility companies so that the payments will not count against her mother’s grant, or her mother can deduct the payments as business expenses. See 106 C.M.R. § 204.210(E).Deborah Harris, Massachusetts Legal Help
Ideally, you should make a modest contribution for rent and utilities, paid separately, in order to maximize your possible food stamps payout. Many states use a standard utility deduction that can make a huge difference in the amount you actually receive.
Report changes to your income or housing immediately.
It is important to promptly report changes to the food stamps office, because many changes can impact the amount of food stamps you receive. Housing has one of the biggest impacts of all!
If you’re wondering, “Can I still get food stamps if I don’t pay rent?” we’ve already established that the answer is yes.
However, in many states including Massachusetts, the food stamps award is actually reduced by a significant amount for homeless families that receive free housing in emergency shelters or motels. Families who report immediately when they move out will see an increase in their benefits, per this article by Deborah Harris.
Make sure that you are getting all the deductions that you are eligible for.
The algorithm used to determine how much food stamps you will receive is very complicated. In addition to looking at your income, the algorithm also has deductions for various eligible expenses. To learn more about the food stamps algorithm and to ensure that you are getting the maximum benefits possible, please read our post “How to Get More Food Stamps.”
Do you have more questions like “Can I get food stamps if I don’t pay rent?”
We write extensively about food stamps topics. If you have more food stamps questions, be sure to check out these helpful posts!
- 450+ freebies and deals for people on food stamps
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- How to get more food stamps every month
- Fast food with EBT?! It works in these areas!
- What bills count for food stamps?
- Food Stamps FAQ
I hope this helps! If you have any additional questions, please leave a comment below!