SNAP benefits, which were formerly known as food stamps, are a form of monetary assistance for needy families and individuals who need help paying for grocery store foods. They supplement a family’s income so that the family has enough money to pay other financial obligations, including health insurance and rent. Benefits may be used to purchase many foods at grocery stores, though it excludes certain items.
Nowadays, an EBT card is used by SNAP beneficiaries instead of food stamps. This helps to reduce the stigma surrounding government assistance, as it is less likely that other consumers will recognize an EBT card in line at the grocery store.
However, the stigma is still present. According to a recent study, only two out of every five eligible and elderly adults receive SNAP benefits each month. It is therefore important to understand why eligible people do not apply for SNAP and how SNAP benefits may improve their quality of life.
Why It Is Important for Low-Income Indivudals to Apply for SNAP
You may not realize that you qualify for SNAP based on the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), your age and other circumstances.
If you are an individual on a fixed income, there is a high chance that you are on a tight budget and sometimes struggle to make ends meet. Monthly SNAP benefits may prevent you from making dangerous trade-offs, such as paying for a prescription instead of food for dinner.
Your food stamps eligibility may also not be as low as you think. While the minimum monthly benefit is $16, the average monthly benefit for a person who lives alone is $106 per month. Furthermore, 80 percent of people who participate in SNAP receive more than the minimum monthly benefit. There are other ways to qualify for a higher monthly benefit as well.
What is SNAP?
What is SNAP? The main goal of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is to provide qualifying individuals and families with monetary assistance so that they can afford nutritious food.
Unfortunately, the cheapest food is often the unhealthiest. Consuming unhealthy food on a daily basis often leads to many different health problems, including type 2 diabetes, coronary artery disease, atherosclerosis, hypertension and more.
In effect, low-income individuals on Medicaid may end up costing state and federal governments more money if their nutritional needs are not met.
How SNAP Works
If you are approved for SNAP benefits, your state will set you up with a food stamps login online, so that you may check your monthly benefit amount and see whether your account is in good standing. You will also receive an EBT card, which works like a credit card or debit card and will be reloaded each month that you qualify. In general, EBT cards may be used at most grocery stores and farmers markets.
Generally, you will receive a notice that explains how long you qualify for benefits. If you still need benefits after this period, you may apply for recertification.
How to Apply for SNAP
You must complete a SNAP application in your state of residence. The application process varies from state to state. Therefore, it is important to research your state’s SNAP guidelines and contact your state agency directly to learn how to apply.
Most states have a SNAP online website that allows you to check your food stamp balance, your general account, personal information and more. In addition, you may also be able to complete an application online.
If your state does not have an online application, you may need to visit your state agency in person or apply by phone. Make sure that you have relevant information available at the time of your application, including your Social Security Number (SSN), income verifications and medical expenses.
How to Get the Most Out of SNAP as a Senior
Before calling the EBT number on the back of your card to request a raise in your monthly benefits, it is important to understand whether you automatically qualify for an increase. For instance, you may qualify for a deduction if you spend more than $35 each month on out-of-pocket medical expenses.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program also allows for other medical deductions. For example, dental expenses and vision expenses are usually deductible, as are dentures, inpatient and outpatient hospital expenses and nursing care.