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.
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By DailyCaring Editorial Team
Image: Senior Home Care of Tucson
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