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AARP Virgin Islands, April 23, 2010
AARP believes that no one—of any age—should go hungry. Yet the current economic downturn is forcing many older people to make the devastating choice to either pay for their medications or their groceries.
Fortunately, there are programs that can help.
There are an estimated 3.6 million people aged 65+ who live in poverty in the United States, according to a 2007 Census Bureau report, and millions of others who may qualify for Federal assistance programs like SNAP (formerly known as the Food Stamp Program), which can alleviate much of the worry and anxiety associated with how to pay for groceries each month.
For older adults with limited incomes, especially those who live alone; food assistance programs can help improve overall health. The healthier people are, the more likely they will be able to take care of their daily needs and live independently.
Unfortunately, only 34% of eligible older Americans receive food assistance—leaving millions of dollars untouched. The most common reason people do not receive SNAP benefits is that they don’t realize they may be eligible.
In the Virgin Islands, all households members must be a US citizen or permanent resident alien residing in the US Virgin Islands. Social Security numbers must be provided for everyone applying for benefits. Households may have no more than $2,000 in countable resources, such as a bank account and no more than $3,000 for household age 60 or older. Certain resources are not counted such as a home and lot. Special rules are used to determine the resource value of vehicles owned by household member. Net monthly income must be 100% or less of federal poverty guidelines ($1,384 per month for a household of three in most cases effective October 1, 2006 through September 30, 2007). Net income is figured out by adding all of a household's gross income, and them taking a number of approved deductions for child care, some sheltered costs and other expenses. Households with am elderly or disabled member are subject only to the net income test.
The old routine of standing in the grocery store line while people watch recipients tear food stamp coupons from a book is no more. Once a person’s application is approved, benefits automatically get loaded on a debit-style card which is accepted at most grocery stores and there are no hidden fees. The average monthly benefit for older Americans is $72 for individuals and $90 per household.
SNAP can be a life changing value for individuals, families and communities, but only if the millions of qualified individuals apply for the benefit.
In these tough economic times, AARP remains staunchly committed to connecting those in need with information and access to programs, which offer real relief and assistance in navigating their basic life needs. We encourage all older Americans and those care for them to learn more about SNAP and apply if they’re eligible.
See if you or a loved one qualifies. Everyone has the opportunity to eat right, even when money is tight.
Find more information about how to apply for visit the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Human Services.
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