The Free Press, Mankato, MN

February 25, 2014

Elderly safety net has vanished

The Mankato Free Press

---- — Some groups have led a revolt against the increase in the use of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program during the Great Recession. I am in agreement that it is wrong that this has happened.

It needs correcting. There should never be retired, hard-working American seniors that have to resort to food stamps just to eat.

The last 30 years have slowly eaten away at their safety net. The cost of living adjustments that were put in place to keep up with inflation were working.

Adjustments were made.

Those adjustments and the Great Recession tore the bottom out of the safety net we had created to keep elderly Americans out of desperate poverty. When my mother retired after working since age 18, she had enough savings, a retirement fund and enough Social Security to be happy.

That security dropped every year as inflation increased.

The Social Security COLA’s changed formula barely covered Medicare premium increases each year.

After 11 years of retirement, she fell behind. Her safety net was the equity in her home.

Then the recession hit. Her home lost all of its built-up equity.

Many seniors fared far worse. How many now just barely survive with SNAP?

Congress created this problem, they can rectify it.

How many seniors rely on SNAP to eat? How large of an increase at the bottom Social Security rates would it take to raise them to self sufficiency for food security?

Raise the cap on the contribution level and keep the cap on the upper payments so the change is revenue neutral. Then watch as the upsurge in senior use of SNAP disappears.

Rob Swart