Improving Participation among Seniors
To improve participation by seniors in the SNAP/Food Stamp Program, FRAC is working to remove barriers facing seniors through federal legislation to improve benefit levels and partnering with state officials, advocates, service providers and other stakeholders to change state policies.
In fact, states have many options to improve the program, and a number of them would be particularly helpful to seniors. States can:
- Support outreach targeted to seniors;
- Eliminate the archaic and unreasonably low asset test ($3,000 for households with seniors) that particularly deters seniors from applying;
- Ensure SSA offices provide simplified food stamp applications for OASDI and SSI applicants and recipients and undertake programs of cross-certification (no separate application needed);
- Shorten the application form and possibly create a special simpler application for persons 60 and over;
- Increase benefit amounts by promoting and defining broadly the medical expense deduction from income (a larger deduction means smaller countable income, which means higher benefits);
- Apply utility expense deduction rules in ways that increase benefits;
- Stop fingerprinting applicants, which is still done in a handful of states;
- Waive the need for in-office, face-to-face interviews at application and recertification;
- Reduce verification requirements and rely more on self-declaration; and
- Allow seniors to receive benefits for 24 months before they need to be recertified as eligible, rather than requiring semi-annual or annual re-application.