Food Stamps for Seniors on Social Security
Seniors and others who receive Social Security can indeed qualify for food stamps. For any adults who are over 60 or have a disability, there are two conditions that must be met. First, your net income must be equal to or less than the federal poverty line (FPL) – which varies by state. Second, your assets must be $4,250 or less.
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Brandon Renfro, Ph.D., CFP®, RICP®, EA
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- Published: March 3, 2023
- Updated: October 20, 2023
- 4 min read time
- This page features 7 Cited Research Articles
- Edited By
- The SNAP program evolved from earlier food assistance programs and is sometimes still called Food Stamps.
- SNAP provides monthly benefits to increase food security and help low-income households make nutritious food choices.
- Most applicants must meet gross and net income limits to qualify for SNAP, but seniors only need to meet the net income limit.
- You can receive SNAP even if you are already receiving Social Security benefits.
How Do Food Stamps Work?
The national Food Stamp program was first introduced by the Roosevelt government in 1939. As the Food Stamp program grew and changed over the decades, other food and nutrition programs were added to the portfolio. Today, the Food and Nutrition Service, which operates under the U.S. Department of Agriculture, conducts 15 federal food assistance programs.
The largest of these programs, formerly known as Food Stamps, is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). In addition to Social Security and retirement benefits, SNAP provides monthly benefits to enhance the food budgets of families in need, so they can make healthy, self-sufficient food choices.
More than 42 million people are currently enrolled in the SNAP program, according to Feeding America. Of those, 4.8 million are seniors over 60 years old.
What Is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)?
SNAP is the current form of the program formerly known as Food Stamps. SNAP’s goal is to reduce hunger and increase food security.
Participants receive monthly benefits on an electronic benefit transfer card (EBT). The EBT card is similar in form and function to a debit card and can be used at any grocery that accepts SNAP. Fortunately, most grocery stores accept this form of payment.
Who Is Eligible for SNAP on Social Security?
To qualify for SNAP benefits, most applicants must meet limits on gross income (before deductions) and net income (after deductions), as well as limits on countable resources. Seniors over 60 years old and applicants with disabilities only have to meet the net income limit. Their limit on countable resources is also higher than other applicants.
You can receive SNAP even if you are getting other social assistance. In fact, almost half of SNAP recipients also receive Social Security benefits.
Until the end of September 2023, the net monthly income limit to qualify for SNAP is $1,133 for an individual, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The amount increases depending on the size of the household.
Rules and Special Circumstances
If you are 60 and over, you can have $4,250 worth of countable resources and still receive SNAP benefits. Countable resources include bank accounts and some vehicles. However, homes, Social Security income and most retirement or pension plans are not considered countable resources.
Your SNAP benefit depends on the size of your household and your monthly income, and you are expected to spend 30% of your own income on food. Your monthly benefit is calculated by the maximum allotment for the size of your household minus the amount of that 30%.
How To Apply for SNAP
Although SNAP is a federal program, it is administered by state agencies. To apply, you must fill out an application form from your local SNAP office, which will be processed within 30 days. During that time, you’ll have an interview in which you’ll provide proof of your financial eligibility. If you are accepted into the SNAP program, your benefits will begin based on the day your application was received.
If you are already receiving Social Security benefits, your local SSA office can also help you complete and submit your SNAP application.
Resources for Seniors Interested in SNAP
Because SNAP is administered at the state level, the application process differs for each state. Your SNAP benefit will depend on the size of your household and your monthly income. Check with your local SNAP or Social Security office for details.
The Food and Nutrition Service also offer other food assistance programs for seniors, including programs for military and veteran families, farmer’s markets and adult day programs.
In addition, US.gov can connect you to information about food help near you.
Frequently Asked Questions About SNAP
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7 Cited Research Articles
- McGovern, E.K.. (2021, March 31) 7 Facts About Older Adults and SNAP. Retrieved from https://www.ncoa.org/article/7-facts-about-older-adults-and-snap
- Food And Nutrition Service (FNS). (n.d.). Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Retrieved from https://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/supplemental-nutrition-assistance-program
- U.S. Department of Agriculture. (n.d.). SNAP Special Rules for the Elderly or Disabled. Retrieved from https://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/eligibility/elderly-disabled-special-rules
- U.S. Department of Agriculture. (n.d.). Assistance for Seniors. Retrieved from https://www.fns.usda.gov/assistance-seniors
- Hunger + Health. (n.d.). SNAP-Eligible Households. Retrieved from https://hungerandhealth.feedingamerica.org/explore-our-work/programs-target-populations/snap-eligible-households/
- Social Security Administration. (n.d.). Looking for a local office? Retrieved from https://www.ssa.gov/locator/
- USA.gov. (n.d.). Food Assistance. Retrieved from https://www.usa.gov/food-help