New BenefitsCheckUp Service Helps Older People Struggling with Food Costs
Contact: Georgiana Bloom
Washington, DC - As the worsening economy puts increasing pressure on older Americans with limited income and resources, the need for assistance to buy food is escalating.
To assist people who need help paying for food, the National Council on Aging has enhanced BenefitsCheckUp with a new Web-based service that provides easy access to information about the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, the new name for the federal Food Stamp Program), in all 50 states plus the District of Columbia.
"Unfortunately, with states facing deficits and cutting human services programs, food assistance programs are becoming increasingly critical for older Americans. BenefitsCheckUp offers a way for seniors throughout the country to access their state's SNAP easily," said Senior Vice President Stuart Spector.
The new service, SNAP Application Forms Service, is part of NCOA's BenefitsCheckUp, a free online service that helps older Americans find and enroll in benefits programs that address vital needs such as meal programs, heating bills, housing, prescription and medical costs, and property tax relief. The SNAP Application Forms Service, it can be found at http://www.BenefitsCheckUp.org/snap.cfm.
According to Spector, the SNAP service greatly enhances access to information about how food assistance programs work in each state, including both eligibility requirements and online application forms.
Through the SNAP service, older Americans or their caregivers can find valuable information about food programs where they live. For example, the tool has an easy-to-use map of the states and a drop-down menu that allows quick access to state information about the SNAP program. Users can simply glide their cursor over the state of interest and click, which will take them to a page with all the information about the SNAP program in that state.
The SNAP service provides the description of the food assistance benefit, eligibility standards, application information and a state-specific hotline phone number, if available. There are Web resources on each state page that include the state Web site for the program, a link to an online application (if available), and a link to the BenefitsCheckUp screening page to find out if someone is eligible for the program.
In addition, there are links to all the application forms available including forms offered in multiple languages. Some of the forms can be used to apply for not only the SNAP program but other key benefit programs, such as Medicaid.
Since its launch in 2001, BenefitsCheckUp has helped more than two million seniors and those who care for them find more than $6.8 billion in annual benefits for which they are eligible. NCOA's free online service has more than 1,650 public and private benefits programs from all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
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The National Council on Aging is a non-profit service and advocacy organization headquartered in Washington, DC. NCOA is a national voice for older Americans - especially those who are vulnerable and disadvantaged - and the community organizations that serve them. It brings together non-profit organizations, businesses and government to develop creative solutions that improve the lives of all older adults. NCOA works with thousands of organizations across the country to help seniors find jobs and benefits, improve their health, live independently and remain active in their communities. For more information, visit www.ncoa.org.