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Learn About SNAP Benefits

Food stamps benefits are available from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). SNAP food benefits for seniors provide resources seniors can use to buy nutritious food items at grocery stores and other retailers that sell food. After a senior applies for services, he or she will need to wait until the state assistance office has processed the application. Food assistance benefits are usually issued shortly after an application is approved. The amount of funds a participant receives will depend on a number of factors. SNAP benefits are typically the same each month as long as a household’s needs stay the same. After receiving benefits food stamps program guidelines indicate which foods can and cannot be purchased with SNAP. It is important for beneficiaries to familiarize themselves with prohibited items before using their funds for the first time, as SNAP cannot be used to purchase anything sold at the grocery store. Below, learn more about the amount of SNAP benefits senior households can receive with SNAP and what items seniors can purchase using the program’s benefits.


If you meet eligibility guidelines for food assistance benefits, you may use your funds at a variety of retail stores that participate in SNAP. Senior SNAP benefits are only meant to be used on certain items. You can still purchase prohibited items on the same shopping trip, but you will have to pay for these products on your own. If you have items in your cart that are not covered by SNAP, you will need to purchase them using a separate transaction. Food stamp benefits are used to purchase many types of food. In general, this includes grains, produce, meat, fish and dairy products. Unlike other types of food assistance, there usually are not rules that dictate which brands of food you can buy with SNAP. You are also allowed to buy seeds to plant produce items in your garden. Note that once you get SNAP benefits, you cannot use your funds to purchase non-food items, meals that are meant to be eaten in the store, alcohol or tobacco. Remember, these must be purchased separately. Learn more about the items you can and cannot purchase with SNAP by downloading our guide to senior programs.

Senior food stamp benefits can only be used at stores that have signed up to be a SNAP retailer. Food stamp benefits for seniors are not accepted everywhere. In other words, even if a store sells items that you can buy with a SNAP card, you can only use your benefits if the store has applied to participate in the program. A wide variety of stores do participate in the SNAP food benefits program, making it relatively easy for you to find a local retailer that will accept your benefits. In some areas, you can even use SNAP at certain restaurants and farmers markets.

Another important rule is that food assistance benefits are only meant to be used by the original recipient. In other words, food stamps benefits cannot be sold or traded to other individuals. Selling, trading or giving away SNAP food benefits may result in disqualification from the program. In serious cases, misusing benefits can lead to prosecution for fraud.


In most cases, SNAP food benefits are issued shortly after a petitioner’s application has been processed by the state benefits agency. Benefits for the food stamps program begin once a beneficiary receives his or her SNAP card, also known as an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card. After the first distribution of funds, food assistance benefits for seniors are issued on a standard day each month. Therefore, beneficiaries can expect to receive food stamps on the same day each month, which makes it easier to plan shopping trips. Each state has its own system for categorizing the release of benefits. States and territories issue food stamps benefits in intervals so that funds are not distributed from the SNAP program all at once.


Food stamp benefits for seniors are allotted based on an individual’s income, resources and household size. SNAP benefits are generally higher for larger households and those with lower incomes. The SNAP program uses a formula to determine what amount of assistance each household will receive. Beneficiaries should note that there are maximum allotment amounts when it comes to food stamp distribution. These standard amounts are the same in most states and U.S. territories. However, food stamps benefits for seniors in Alaska, Hawaii and certain territories are often higher due to the higher cost of living in these areas. Seniors with no income may be eligible to receive the maximum SNAP allotment. Learn more about the SNAP allotment amounts by downloading our senior resources guide.

After a senior receives food stamps benefits, the allotments are generally the same each month, provided that the household income, resources and size does not change. The amount of SNAP food benefits can change if a household reports different information when renewing benefits. Once approved for SNAP benefits, a senior will receive a notification indicating how long he or she is eligible to receive benefits. In some cases, it is necessary to reapply for SNAP after several months or a year.