Key Takeaways

  • A change to the way food prices are estimated means your Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP benefits will increase by roughly 25% beginning in October.

  • NCOA can help you see if you qualify for SNAP and get reminders to guide you through the application process.

  • Go to NCOA's to find out if you qualify and get the resources you need to start your application.

If you are enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or sometimes called Food Stamps), you may soon see more money coming to you each month. 

Why are SNAP benefits increasing?

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced a change to the way food costs are calculated. This change is part of a reevaluation of the Thrifty Food Plan (TFP), which was mandated by Congress in the 2018 Farm Bill. Beginning October 1, 2021, households who get SNAP will see an average 25% increase in their monthly SNAP benefits. 

What is the Thrifty Food Plan (TFP)?

The Thrifty Food Plan (TFP) was developed by USDA to estimate the lowest cost of a healthy diet for a family of four. USDA recalculated the TFP after looking at four key areas: 

  • Current food prices
  • What Americans typically eat
  • Dietary guidance, and 
  • The nutrients in food items 

The TFP includes 5 categories of food—fruit, vegetables, dairy, grains, and protein—that together comprise a practical, cost-effective diet that meets dietary guidance. The TFP creates Market Baskets that outline the types, amounts, and associated costs of nutrient-dense foods and beverages based on 15 age-sex groups. 

The TFP had not been updated since 2006. This is the first time in 45 years the update has increased the real value of the TFP; previous updates were adjusted only for inflation. This update is critical to improving food insecurity for older adults as recent research from NCOA and the Leading Age LTSS Center @UMass Boston found that SNAP has not adequately kept up with rising food costs over time.

How does the TFP affect SNAP benefits? 

The TFP is used to determine a household’s monthly SNAP benefit amount. The maximum SNAP benefit amount for a 4-person household is determined by the value of the TFP for a family of four consisting of a man and a woman aged 20 through 50 years, a child aged 6 through 8 years, and a child aged 9 through 11 years. 

Each year in June, the value of the TFP is used to establish the maximum SNAP benefit amount for a 4-person SNAP household for the fiscal year beginning on October 1. SNAP benefit amounts for other size households are then adjusted up or down based on the number of people in the household. This adjustment takes into account that it is costs more per person to feed a smaller household than a larger one. 

How much money will I get in SNAP benefits now? 

As a result of the update to the value of the TFP, average SNAP benefits will increase by 25% per month beginning on Oct. 1, 2021.

Here’s an example of what this might look like: In October 2020, Mr. Jackson, who lives alone and gets $500 in Social Security income per month, would have received $54 in monthly SNAP benefits. Thanks to temporary emergency allotments stemming from COVID-19 legislation, he received $204. In January 2021, Congress added a 15% boost to SNAP benefits (to last through September 2021). Thus in January, Mr. Jackson's benefit increased to $234. This October, that 15% boost will end but the TFP re-evaluation takes effect, so Mr. Jackson's benefit will increase from $234 to $250. Once emergency allotments end, his benefit will decrease to $100, still higher than the $54 he originally received thanks to the TFP re-evaluation.

This means that if even you received the previous minimum benefit amount, you will see an increase in benefits. In FY19, 21% of households with elderly individuals received the minimum benefit amount. Increase to benefit amounts are important for increasing participation in SNAP, as research by NCOA found that low benefit amounts are a common reason seniors don’t apply for the program. 

If you are already enrolled in SNAP, you will automatically see this increase beginning in October. If you are not already enrolled in SNAP, NCOA can help. 

Get help applying for SNAP

To see if you may qualify for SNAP, NCOA has a screening tool that can help. In order to complete a screening, you’ll need this information:  

  • Monthly income
  • Household expenses: Rent/mortgage, utility costs, taxes
  • Medical costs: Monthly prescriptions and costs of healthcare
  • Number of people living in household

Once you have all your information handy, go to and select your state. If you qualify, we’ll also give you all the information you need to apply, whether you want to do it yourself, or find someone to help you.

Sign up to receive SNAP reminders through texts

If you are interested in SNAP or have applied, you can get reminders from NCOA by providing a cell phone number to enroll in our SNAP SMS texting campaign. Once enrolled in the text message campaign you will receive:

  • Reminders to complete and submit your SNAP application
  • Follow-up messages that remind you to prepare for your interview
  • Helpful tips on how and where to use your SNAP benefits, and
  • Links to learn more about other programs NCOA offers.

Sign up now to receive texts/SMS updates about your SNAP application and check your benefits eligibility.