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Proposed SNAP Rule Could Harm Food Access for Older Adults

A proposed rule announced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on July 23 would change eligibility rules for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and lower the number of older adults eligible for SNAP benefits.  

Under current SNAP rules, households eligible for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) support are considered categorically eligible for SNAP. States can set TANF eligibility criteria, which may exceed the federal eligibility criteria for SNAP. 

The proposed rule would end this categorical eligibility and require certain households eligible for TANF to meet federal criteria, including income levels, to be eligible for SNAP, in addition to other eligibility changes. 

SNAP is of particular importance to low-income older adults. More than 1 in 5 of SNAP households (4.6 million) include an adult age 60+. Most (81%) older adults receiving SNAP live in single-person households. 

The proposal would reduce the number of people eligible for SNAP and disproportionately affect households with older adults ages 60+ (page 21). While about 9% of all households receiving SNAP would no longer be eligible for this benefit under the proposed rule, more than 13% of households containing older adults would lose SNAP eligibility. USDA acknowledges the negative impact this proposal could have on older adults, citing that the rule could have age-related civil rights impacts on SNAP recipients (page 24). 

LeadingAge will submit comments to USDA focused on how these proposed changes would harm households containing older adults. Members with questions or comments may contact Brendan Flinn.

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