My income is over $50K/year. I am 30 years old.

My father's income from ALL sources is $0/year. My father is 55 years old.

I give $1,000/month via online banking transfer to my father. He also gets $200/month of SNAP food stamps.

Nobody else claims him as a dependent.

I certainly can claim my father as my dependent. But if I do, will he lose his SNAP benefits? (Because his household income would no longer be $0, but would be equal to my income of >$50K.)

What if I give him only $201/month, which would be 51% of his support. Then would his household income be equal to $401 ($200 SNAP + $201 me), OR would his household income be >$50K (since I claim him, ergo I am the Head of Household)?

PS: I am not trying to rip off the government. I just want to know if it's legal.

  • To be clear, are you intending to file your taxes as head of household based on your father's dependent status? Or are you filing under a different status, or do you have another dependent living with you?
    – Dan Getz
    Apr 6, 2015 at 10:34
  • 2
    I highly recommend a lawyer for this. You may be able to set up a trust for him to help with income without affecting his eligibility for assistance and still claim him as a dependent (my wife and I set up a trust for her father for the same reason, though he isn't a dependent of ours). It's not cheap - cost us about 2-3k to set up - but it can be the best option to find the correct and legal way to maximize your use of government benefits.
    – David Rice
    Apr 6, 2015 at 15:17

2 Answers 2


It seems that counting your father as your dependent shouldn't, in itself, cause him to be ineligible for SNAP.

Eligibility requirements for SNAP can be found on this FNS page. There are upper limits on the "countable resources, such as a bank account" that the beneficiary's household may have, and on that household's income. (There are some other requirements, too.) From what I can tell from your question, your father shouldn't be part of your household for SNAP purposes, because:

Everyone who lives together and purchases and prepares meals together is grouped together as one household.

If you're transferring him money, I assume he's living and eating somewhere else, so it seems you are not part of his household.

According to the IRS's Publication 501, your father is not required to be part of your household for IRS purposes to be your dependent. The test to qualify is that a non-child dependent

must either:

  1. Live with you all year as a member of your household, or

  2. Be related to you in one of the ways listed under Relatives who do not have to live with you.

However, by the "Special rule for parent", you may be able to use your father as your qualifying person (dependent) to be able to file as "head of household", so long as you pay more than half their support, and "more than half the cost of keeping up a home that was the main home for the entire year for your father".

I don't know if in this case the IRS would consider your father "part of your household" or not. Even if the IRS considered your father part of your household based on the way you filed your taxes, I think it's possible, as the IRS and FNS are two different entities, that the definition of your father's household for SNAP purposes could be different from the IRS's.

  • 2
    Great answer backed up by the references to the official sources. Thank you Dan ! ! ! Apr 7, 2015 at 2:35

This may be best handled by an expert. Look for somebody recommended by a church, homeless shelter, food pantry, office of unemployment, office of disability, or Veterans services to advise you on maximizing support for your father.

You want to know what type of help you can give without causing the overall level of support to drop.

You may even find there are other avenues of assistance.

  • 3
    Those "experts" are usually ignorant. I already asked them all. That's why I'm asking this question here, hope there real experts that can help. Apr 5, 2015 at 16:46
  • If professional advice is free, it is suspect, in my opinion. @user3191304 Be sure that, regardless of who gives you advice, tie that advice to specific references on government publications. Short of paying someone to provide you with a professional opinion, your own research backed up by official sources is the most trustworthy option. Nov 22, 2016 at 14:18

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