Connecting seniors with SNAP: How advocates can support states to adopt policy change

Nearly half of all eligible seniors—5.2 million—-are not enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) despite its proven ability to reduce hunger insecurity and fight poverty. However, several states have discovered that the Elderly Simplified Application Project (ESAP) is an effective tool to increase senior SNAP participation. ESAP is a state option that reduces barriers to enrollment, maximizes seniors’ SNAP benefits, and helps them stay connected to the benefit longer. Specifically, ESAP simplifies the application for seniors and reduces the administrative burden on states and seniors alike by extending certification periods and using electronic sources to verify information.

As partners in the effort to boost SNAP participation among low-income seniors, Benefits Data Trust (BDT) and the National Council on Aging (NCOA) developed a Guide for Advocates that helps determine if ESAP would offer benefit to the seniors within their state. This step-by-step guide outlines:

  • What is ESAP,
  • Results to Date from current ESAP States,
  • Lessons Learned and Best Practices
  • Opportunities for Advocates.

BDT and NCOA will host a webinar for advocates on April 6th at 2:00 pm to provide a deep dive into the ins and outs of this policy option. Click here to register! In the meantime, here are some key takeaways for advocates from the guide:

  • Effective ESAPs can improve customer experience, achieve administrative efficiencies and increase participation among seniors and those with disabilities.
  • ESAPs can vary by state due to a variety of different policy waivers and processing improvements that can reflect the unique needs of an administering agency.
  • Process change is at least as important as policy change, especially to achieve the dual goals of improving consumer experience and increasing administrative efficiency.

For more information contact Pauline Abernathy, Chief Strategy Officer, at 215-207-9100 or

Learn more about how BDT engages in policy change.