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The Rolla Daily News - Rolla, MO
  • Seniors among hardest hit by SNAP decrease

  • Those in Phelps County who receive assistance from the food stamp program, also known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), will notice a decrease beginning this month.
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  • Those in Phelps County who receive assistance from the food stamp program, also known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), will notice a decrease beginning this month.
    According to the Missouri Department of Social Services, the program's temporary increase from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 expired on Oct. 31.
    This resulted in a decrease in benefits for most participants, who should have received a letter in October showing their new benefit amount.
    Ramona Rinehart, of the Caring Center in St. James, said the senior population will be hit the hardest with the decrease.
    "The majority of our seniors only average about $18 a month in benefits, and they are getting cut to about $12 a month," Rinehart said. "The average Social Security payment of the senior clients is about $800 a month. The $18 wasn't a lot, and now they are getting cut."
    Rinehart said this is a contrast from clients with dependents, who can receive hundreds of dollars per month.
    The Associated Press recently reported that Social Security benefits will increase 1.5 percent in January 2014, giving an average raise of $19 a month to those drawing benefits.
    However, Rinehart says this increase will most likely be absorbed by the cost of Medicare for many of the senior clients in St. James. This is among the smallest cost-of-living increases in Social Security since automatic adjustments began in 1975.
    The Missouri Department of Social Services gives examples of food stamp reductions on its website, the lowest which is a decrease from $200 to $189, and the highest which decreases from $668 to $632.
    According to a recent report from CNBC, approximately 48 million people nationwide receive food stamp benefits, with an average monthly benefit of about $275 per household.
    Reduction numbers will depend on the recipients' situation, but a family of four with no changes in circumstance will receive $36 less per month, the report said.
    In Phelps County, a total of 6,606 persons received benefits in September 2013. In that month, a total of $808,111 in benefits was issued, with an average of $122.33 per person, according to the DSS website.
    In fiscal year 2012, a total of $10 million in food stamp benefits was received in Phelps County.
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