The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is the nation’s largest anti-hunger program and a lifeline for millions of people, including adults ages 50 and older who are at risk for food insecurity (i.e., limited or uncertain access to adequate food). SNAP provides financial assistance to low-income individuals and families to help buy the food they need. The program reduces food insecurity and poverty and is also linked to improved health outcomes, including reduced hospitalizations among low-income older adults.
Millions of people enrolled in SNAP during the pandemic and associated economic downturn, which likely played a role in keeping the share of adults ages 50 and older who were food-insecure unchanged at 8 percent (or 9.5 million people) during that time period.
A December 2021 fact sheet describes selected characteristics of adults ages 50 and older who participate in SNAP and the benefits their households receive. The paper includes analysis of SNAP participants ages 50 to 59 as well as those ages 60 and older, and state-level data is included in the appendices.
Key takeaways include:
- Almost half of SNAP households have an older adult.
- Most older SNAP enrollees live alone.
- Most older SNAP households live below the poverty line.
- Nearly half of SNAP participants ages 50 to 59 have a disability.
- Older SNAP recipients represent different races and ethnicities.
- Nearly one-third of older SNAP households receive the maximum benefit.
- One in six older SNAP households receive the minimum benefit.
- Fewer than one in six SNAP households with adults 60 and older claim the medical expense deduction.
Dean, Olivia, and Carlos Figueiredo. Millions of Adults Ages 50 and Older Rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Washington, DC: AARP Public Policy Institute. December 2021. https://doi.org/10.26419/ppi.00106.002
- Millions of Adults Ages 50 and Older Rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (2018 data)
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