6. Multiple households in the same house
Food stamps are granted based on the concept of the “household.” A household is a person living alone, or group of people living together, who by and prepare their food together. [7 C.F.R. § 273.1(a); MPP § 63-402.1.] There can be more than one food stamp household under the same roof.
Having more than one food stamps household under one roof can result in more benefits for each household. For example, four people will usually get more food stamps if they apply as two households of two, instead of one household of four. Also, having more than one food stamp household can protect your benefits if someone else in the house does not meet food stamps rules, such as not doing the work requirements or having too much income or resources.
Other times, however, it is better for a larger group of people to apply as one food stamps household. If the family has a large rent or utility bill, little income, and an elderly or disabled member, it may be better to apply with everyone together in one household. Households with an elderly or disabled person are not subject to the upper limit on their excess shelter deduction (called a “cap”). This means that the whole amount of the rent and utilities can be subtracted from the household’s income, even if the shelter costs are much higher than the shelter cap.
Remember, the test of whether people can be in a group household or must be separate is whether the group purchases food and prepares meals together. Groups that buy and prepare their food together can split off (as long as they are not required to be in a particular household), by buying or preparing their food separately, and informing the welfare case worker that the former larger group wants to be aided separately.