Senior SNAP Participants Experience Slower Rate of Memory Decline

A recent study revealed that seniors who participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP had a slower rate of memory decline when compared to seniors who are not enrolled in the program. SNAP is a government program that helps lower-income individuals and families afford healthy food.

Researchers at Columbia University looked at more than 3,500 people aged 50 and older. The researchers found that seniors who participated in SNAP had slower rates of memory decline than those not enrolled in the program. Specifically, the SNAP participants had about two fewer years of cognitive aging over 10 years. This suggests that providing nutrition benefits to low-income adults could help slow age-related memory loss.

Basic Information About SNAP

Many people need to understand the ins and outs of SNAP fully. The USDA Food and Nutrition Services provides specific information about SNAP, including qualifying for the program.

SNAP Eligibility

A household must meet certain requirements to qualify for SNAP and receive benefits. A designated state agency determines SNAP eligibility in a particular jurisdiction. If your state agency determines that you are eligible to receive SNAP benefits, you will receive benefits back to the date you submitted your application.

How to Apply for SNAP

You must apply for SNAP in the state where you presently reside. Because each state has a different application form and process, a household member must contact your state agency directly to apply.

You can find where you can find your designated SNAP state agency here: contact your state agency. You can get more information about SNAP by visiting your local SNAP office or your state agency’s website or by calling your state’s toll-free SNAP Information hotline (which can be found at the link noted a moment ago). Some states have online applications that can be completed from the state agency website.

What Occurs When a SNAP Application Is Submitted

In most cases, once you submit your application, your state agency or local SNAP office will process it. Typically, you will receive a notification advising you as to whether or not you are eligible for benefits within 30 days.

During the 30 days, you will need to complete an eligibility interview and give proof supporting the information you provided. The interview is typically completed over the telephone. If you are found eligible, you will receive benefits based on the date you submitted your application. In other words, benefits will be backdated.

You may be eligible to receive SNAP benefits within 7 days of your application date if you meet additional requirements. For example, if your household has less than $100 in liquid resources and $150 in monthly gross income, or if your household’s combined monthly gross income and liquid resources are less than what you pay each month for rent or mortgage and utilities expenses.

How SNAP Benefits Are Received

If you are found eligible, you will receive a notice advising the period you will receive SNAP benefits. This period is called your certification period. Before your certification period ends, you will receive another notice that says you must recertify to continue receiving benefits. Your local SNAP office will provide you with information about how to recertify.

How Is a SNAP Household Defined

Everyone living together and purchasing and preparing meals is grouped as one SNAP household. Some people who live together, such as spouses and most children under age 22, are included in the same SNAP household, even if they purchase and prepare meals separately.

If a person is 60 years of age or older and unable to purchase and prepare meals separately because of a permanent disability, the person and the person’s spouse may be in a separate SNAP household if the others they live with do not have very much income (no more than 165 percent of the poverty level).

Normally you are not eligible for SNAP benefits if an institution gives you most of your meals. There are exceptions for elderly persons and disabled persons. For example, a person in assisted living may qualify in some instances.

Resources a Person Can Have and Still Qualify for SNAP

Currently, households may have $2,750 in countable resources. This includes such financial resources as cash or money in a bank account or $4,250 in countable resources if at least one household member is age 60 or older or is disabled. These amounts are updated annually.

However, certain resources are not counted when determining eligibility for SNAP. These include:

  • A home and lot
  • Resources of people who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Resources of people who receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF; also known as welfare)
  • Most retirement and pension plans (withdrawals from these accounts may count as either income or resources, depending on how often they occur)

Overview of SNAP Income Limits

In most cases, your household must meet gross and net income limits. If these are not met, in most cases, your household is not eligible for SNAP and cannot receive benefits.

Gross income means a household’s total, non-excluded income before any deductions have been made. Net income means gross income minus allowable deductions. A household with an elderly or disabled person only has to meet the net income limit, as described on the elderly and disabled page.

If all members of your household are receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), or in some states, other general assistance, your household may be deemed “categorically eligible” for SNAP because you have already been determined eligible for another means-tested program.

In conclusion, to better ensure an elderly individual has access to nutritious foods, consideration of applying for SNAP very well may be a solid course of action. Again, taking this course may best ensure that a senior’s health is enhanced, including slowing the rate of memory decline.