Social Security and USDA Strengthen Partnership To Better Assist SNAP and SSI Recipients

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The Social Security Administration and U.S. Department of Agriculture will partner on a new initiative designed to bolster nutrition security for seniors and low-income households in the United States.

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In a Wednesday announcement, the SSA and USDA said the partnership is designed to help connect Supplemental Security Income and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits.

Among the goals are to improve efficiency, advance food and nutrition security and “reduce the hurdles families face to obtain the government assistance they need,” according to a news release.

To that end, the Social Security Administration will now notify SSI applicants and recipients of their eligibility for SNAP. The means that when a household applies for or receives SSI, the agency will also help them apply for SNAP. Under federal law, the USDA’s Food Nutrition Service will reimburse the SSA for time and resources spent on SNAP screenings and applications.

SNAP, formerly known as food stamps, is a federal program that provides food assistance to low-income families. Although it is a part of the USDA it is administered at the state level.

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SSI is a federal income supplement program designed to help older, blind and disabled people who have little or no income by providing cash to meet basic needs for food, clothing and shelter.

“Social Security is committed to reducing barriers and ensuring people who are eligible for benefits receive them,” Acting SSA Commissioner Kilolo Kijakazi said in a statement. “Partnering with USDA to test more efficient ways to apply, share information, and help SSI families apply for SNAP assistance makes it easier for people to obtain the services they need.”

The updated partnership will also pilot alternatives to paper-based applications by expanding the use of electronic applications and telephonic signatures, with the aim of making it easier for SSI recipients to complete their SNAP applications. Additional data will be made available to the USDA on the number of SSI applicants not receiving SNAP and when they typically drop out of the application process.

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“Allowing SSI applicants and recipients to apply for SNAP with SSA prevents applicants from having to provide the same paperwork to multiple offices and reduces burden on state and local administrators,” said Stacy Dean, deputy under secretary for USDA’s Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services. “We’re continually working to make it easier for all people, but especially vulnerable populations — like adults and children with a disability or blindness and people age 65 or older — to access the nutrition assistance they need and deserve.”

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About the Author

Vance Cariaga is a London-based writer, editor and journalist who previously held staff positions at Investor’s Business Daily, The Charlotte Business Journal and The Charlotte Observer. His work also appeared in Charlotte Magazine, Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal and Business North Carolina magazine. He holds a B.A. in English from Appalachian State University and studied journalism at the University of South Carolina. His reporting earned awards from the North Carolina Press Association, the Green Eyeshade Awards and AlterNet. In addition to journalism, he has worked in banking, accounting and restaurant management. A native of North Carolina who also writes fiction, Vance’s short story, “Saint Christopher,” placed second in the 2019 Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition. Two of his short stories appear in With One Eye on the Cows, an anthology published by Ad Hoc Fiction in 2019. His debut novel, Voodoo Hideaway, was published in 2021 by Atmosphere Press.
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