(TRENTON) – To ensure senior citizens with high medical costs who participate in the New Jersey Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) receive appropriate benefits, legislation to establish a standard medical expense dedication was approved Monday by the full Assembly 72-0.
Currently, households with elderly individuals are allowed to deduct unreimbursed medical expenses over $35 from their income when calculating their net income to determine their eligibility for SNAP benefits. Deducting expenses from income provides a more realistic picture of how much income families have available to spend on food.
The bill (A-2285) would create a standard medical expense deduction for households that include an elderly or disabled person for expenditures like medical and dental care, hospitalization or nursing care, prescription drugs, dentures, and hearing aids, among others. The deduction amount would be agreed upon by the New Jersey Department of Human Services and the United States Department of Agriculture.
The measure’s sponsors, Assembly Democrats John Armato (D-Atlantic), Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen) and Daniel Benson (D-Mercer, Middlesex) released the following joint statement:
“SNAP is a critical lifeline for families struggling with food insecurity. However, the initial application process can be lengthy and tedious, and may be especially challenging for some seniors. Some may feel discouraged from applying; an estimated 56% of seniors in New Jersey who are eligible for SNAP participate in the program. Others who do apply may choose to forego filling out the medical expenses paperwork that would qualify them for a deduction because it is too taxing.
“By creating a standard medical expense deduction, we will help to simplify and streamline the SNAP application process, and ensure seniors receive the full benefits for which they are eligible.”