Those who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits from the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services will experience an important change in the amount of SNAP benefits being distributed as a result of recent federal action.
Since the pandemic started in 2020, households receiving SNAP benefits have been getting an additional payment in the second half of the month known as an Emergency Allotment. Right now, SNAP benefits are paid in two payments during the month: a regular SNAP benefit in the first half of the month and an extra payment in the second half of the month.
However, changes in federal law mean that states will no longer be able to issue these additional EA payments. The extra payment in the second half of the month will stop after February 2023. This means that starting March 1, only one regular SNAP payment will be received, returning to how payment was made prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Another federal change affecting older Pennsylvanians is the 2023 cost of living adjustment for Social Security Income, which prompted an increase to SSI income. SNAP eligibility thresholds – also set at the federal level – did not rise proportionally. Because of this, approximately 249,000 households will see a decrease in their base SNAP benefits by an average of $40 per household, which will take effect in March when Emergency Allotments end. DHS anticipates that 5,000 to 20,000 households will be disenrolled from SNAP due to the SSI increase.
The Department of Aging and its aging network partners want to make sure that older adults who need food assistance know where to go for help.
How can older adults find other help with getting food and meals?
Senior Community Centers such as the Mature Resources Centers for Active Living provide nutritious lunchtime meals and socialization. You can find a senior center near you by visiting https://www.mraaa.life/centers-for-active-living
You can call Mature Resources Area Agency on Aging to connect with meal resources at the local level, including in-home meal delivery and other meal options. Call 814-765-2696, or visit https://www.mraaa.life/
You can call the Department of Aging’s PACE program at 800-424-4356 to apply for the Senior Food Box program, which provides eligible seniors with nutritious, shelf-stable groceries each month. PACE operators will complete the application for you and send it directly to the Department of Agriculture. PACE can also help you connect with local food pantries and meal assistance.
You can call the PA Link to Aging and Disability Resources at 1-800-753-8827. A PA Link counselor in your region will talk with you one-on-one to help you connect with meal support, benefits programs and other help with activities of daily living.
Starting June 1, each year, the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program provides eligible adults over age 60 with vouchers that can be used to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables at more than 800 farm stands and more than 200 farmers’ markets in Pennsylvania. Vouchers are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Your local Area Agency on Aging can tell you when and how to get your vouchers.
Some Medicare Advantage Plans and Special Needs Plans offer grocery benefits, food boxes, and home-delivered meals as a plan bonus. If you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage Plan or Special Needs Plan, you may want to inquire with your plan to see if they offer these added benefits.
You can call 211 or visit www.211pa.org to connect with various local food resources, or to locate your local Area Agency on Aging.
You can learn more about nutrition programs for older adults at the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.
You can learn more about the end of the SNAP Emergency Allotment and other resources available at www.dhs.pa.gov/SNAPCares.