SNAP Benefits for Seniors: 7 Key Food Assistance Program Facts

SNAP benefits for seniors

SNAP keeps seniors healthy and reduces medical costs

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides nutrition assistance to eligible low-income individuals and families.

The program is especially important in helping low-income older adults afford nutritious food so they can stay as healthy as possible. With financial assistance, seniors won’t be forced to make dangerous trade-offs like skipping meals or skipping medication.

In an article from the National Council on Aging (NCOA), they share key facts about SNAP benefits for seniors and explain how to find out if your older adult is eligible and how to apply.

We share their 7 tips to help seniors take full advantage of SNAP benefits and highlight the essential points.



7 key facts about SNAP benefits for seniors

1. Few seniors participate in SNAP
Only 2 out of 5 eligible adults over age 60 are enrolled in SNAP. That means 3 out of 5 seniors who qualify are missing out on benefits.


2. The average SNAP benefit for seniors is $106/month
A common myth about SNAP is that it only gives $16 worth of benefits per month.

Don’t be misled! Yes, $16 is the minimum monthly benefit. But 80% of senior SNAP participants receive more than the minimum.

The latest numbers show that the average monthly benefit for an older adult living alone was $106 per month. That’s a significant savings in food costs!

On top of that, many seniors are able to increase their monthly SNAP benefit by taking advantage of deductions for other expenses.


3. Many seniors who qualify for the excess medical expense deduction don’t use it
Currently only 16% of older adults use the medical expense deduction. But many more SNAP-eligible seniors could qualify.

If your older adult spends more than $35 a month on out-of-pocket medical costs, they might be able to deduct that from their gross income when applying for SNAP. That would increase their monthly benefit amount.

Learn more about this deduction in the NCOA fact sheet


4. Many senior SNAP participants experience isolation
About 80% of older adults who get SNAP benefits live alone. More than half have little to no income and live on general assistance, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), or other benefits.

For these seniors, getting an average of $1,272 in SNAP benefits can mean the difference between having food and going hungry.


5. SNAP helps the local economy
When SNAP benefits are spent at local stores, it brings money into the community – research found that every $1 in additional SNAP benefits generates $1.79 in local economic activity.

Plus, additional $1 billion in SNAP benefits would generate 8,900 full-time jobs.

So your older adult would actually be helping their city by participating in SNAP – a win-win situation!



6. Access to SNAP can reduce health care costs
When older adults are in debt, they have to make trade-offs that are likely to damage their health. That could mean resorting to skipping meals or reducing medication doses.

A recent study of low-income Maryland seniors found that SNAP participants are 23% less likely to enter a nursing home and 4% less likely to be hospitalized in the year after receiving SNAP.

Participating in SNAP was also linked to lower overall health care expenses and Medicaid/Medicare costs.


7. All the information needed to apply for SNAP can be found in one place
Use NCOA’s SNAP map to find out more about each state’s SNAP program.

Choosing a state takes you to application forms and information about SNAP eligibility for seniors. 44 states currently allow people to apply online, so there are also links to the online applications. And in some areas, applications are available in multiple languages.

You could also use the USDA’s SNAP pre-screening eligibility tool to see if your older adult might be eligible. You’ll still need to apply later, but at least the tool lets you know if it’s likely to be worth the effort.


Next Step  Find your state’s SNAP program website or find out more about SNAP at NCOA


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By DailyCaring Editorial Team
Image: Senior Home Care of Tucson


This article wasn’t sponsored and doesn’t contain affiliate links. For more information, see How We Make Money.


  • Reply May 3, 2020


    Whoever wrote this is a joke. How does $106 a month pay for sufficent groceries in today’s world. What does $3.41 a day buy..not even 1 small meal ! Do you live on $106. Per month ?

    • Reply May 3, 2020


      While the money from these programs may not be enough to completely cover food expenses, every little bit helps. Getting some extra money is always better than getting none.

  • Reply October 22, 2019

    Ronda S.

    I was given a packet to fill out, then I had a “telephone appt” and was told all that I filled out to help me apply and get more benefits didn’t count. I could NOT use any of my medical towards my CalFresh/Snap benefits. Then I got a $16.00 card that I was NOT able to use and they put in the wrong information in my account & sent the wrong card. Who can I complain to? Why can’t I use my medical as a deduction? Or any of the other stuff they had me fill out?

    • Reply October 22, 2019


      We’re so sorry about the situation. Government programs can be complicated and confusing. To find someone who could help, we’d suggest contacting your local Area Agency on Aging to see if they can connect you with an organization that has expertise in this area. More info here — Area Agency on Aging: Resources for Seniors

  • Reply October 3, 2019

    Rosemarie Marrone

    I get $16. And am raising a grandchild. They tell me how much my bills are and they are not nearly what they say.

    • Reply October 8, 2019


      It can sometimes be challenging to maximize benefits from the program. Perhaps the tips from MLBano’s comment (below) will help. They said they went from getting $18/month to $190/month by correcting errors in their application.

      • Reply March 31, 2020

        Patricia Petrarca

        They said I would get $16. but never sent card

        • Reply April 9, 2020


          That’s disappointing! You may want to give them a call to see why your card hasn’t arrived yet.

  • Reply August 6, 2019

    Jeanne Bobbitt

    This program is of no use. I applied last year & received only $16/mo. That only buys quart of milk dozen of eggs maybe bag of potatoes. I can’t get fresh veg or fruit. Where’s nutrition

    • Reply August 6, 2019

      It can sometimes be challenging to maximize benefits from the program. Perhaps the tips from MLBano’s comment (below) will help. They said they went from getting $18/month to $190/month by correcting errors in their application.

  • Reply July 5, 2019


    Hi Tom I used to get $18 a month, for several years. I figured I was doing something “wrong” with my application as I was sick, on multiple meds and had absolutely no help from Anywhere – no agency help – nothing when it came down to filling out the paperwork. It turned out I was making errors in my expendatures such as Electric Bill,, Telephone bill, Taxes and House rent and simple things like mandatory Aspirin (monthly deduction) Vitamins like C and D which are not covered by ANY “Health Plan” and Transportation to and from the Doctors and Hospitals for testings (keep those uber/taxi receipts or if you drive yourself every drop of gasoline and mileage are deductable not to mention your car payment/inurance USE IT! as an expense) At the end of the “day” meaning a year later, I added these things together and now receive $190 a month! Please dont give up, depending on your regular income, and proper guidance I hoping you can receive what you are really entitled too, just please dont leave ANYTHING OUT and remember NO ONE will help you. Please check on the Forum Boards for these “tips” America the Free will NOT help We the People, we must help each other. Good Luck. There is No Help for US if we already speak english and live here it is a “given” if you are American you are born wealthy and healthy. lol/

  • Reply February 22, 2019

    tom molinaro

    I’m 70 just got snap benefits $24.00 a month, yeah, I’m in good hands now,,,

    • Reply May 5, 2020

      Michele Jarosz

      I’m 77 and they gave me $16 a month. Luckily the covid thing gives me another $179 for 2 months

      • Reply May 5, 2020


        It’s wonderful that you’re able to get some additional funds to support you during this tough time.

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