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USDA Change Could Cut Food Stamps for 600,000 Seniors

More than 600,000 seniors could lose their eligibility for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps, with a proposed change from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). 

The proposal 

In 40 U.S. states, including the District of Columbia, a person can automatically qualify for food stamps if they already receive low-income housing subsidies. This is known as broad-based categorical eligibility (BBCE) and results in some people receiving food stamps even though their income would otherwise make them ineligible. 

Sonny Perdue, Secretary of Agriculture, said of the proposal, “Too often, states have misused this flexibility without restraint.” 

According to the USDA, this could cause more than 3.1 million Americans to lose their food stamps, over 600,000 of them being seniors. 

Some of these people could still be eligible for food stamps, but they would have to directly apply for them. Approximately 26 percent of seniors on food stamps could see a reduction or complete loss of benefits. 

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Seniors on food stamps

Americans over age 60 experience disproportionately high rates of food insecurity compared to the general population. One reason is stagnant Social Security benefits, which are increasing by a modest 1.6 percent in 2020. 

Another reason for food insecurity in seniors is a lack of education. According to the USDA, only 40 percent of seniors who are eligible for food stamps apply for them, which means nearly 60 percent of seniors are putting their health at risk by not applying. Proper nutrition is important. If a low-income senior uses food stamps, they are 23 percent less likely to enter a nursing home. 

To see if you’re eligible for food stamps, contact your state’s USDA agency

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