The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) increased the annual SNAP cost of living adjustment for 2023, but the minimum monthly program benefit remained almost steady over last year, at $23 for most one- or two-person households, as reported by the National Council on Aging (NCOA) on January 25, 2023. The new amount ranges from $28 to $44 in Alaska and from $33 to $43 in Hawaii. Due to the ongoing impacts of inflation on food prices, this modest increase may be challenging for low-income older adults who are already struggling to make ends meet.
The NCOA is pushing for changes in the way SNAP benefits are calculated due to flaws in the system. Until then, older adults living on a fixed income who receive minimum SNAP benefits may struggle to afford healthy food. However, even small improvements in diet and nutrition from using SNAP benefits can have positive health impacts.
Federal SNAP income limits are set each year by the government. In 2023, adults over 60 and/or living with a disability will be eligible for assistance if their household income is less than or equal to the federal poverty line and their assets amount to $4,250 or less, based on a report by the CBPP on March 3, 2023.
To make the most of their minimum monthly SNAP benefits, people can use four baskets with different meal ideas and increase their fruit and vegetable variety. To stretch their budget, they can save unused benefits, buy generics, use coupons, and shop at discount stores, according to NCOA.
Using these strategies can help individuals maximize their $23 SNAP benefits to purchase more groceries. While it may not be enough, it can support their basic needs. The government needs to do better at supporting vulnerable older adults in the US.