Skip to content

Heinrich Cosponsors Legislation to Expand SNAP Eligibility for Social Security Recipients

WASHINGTON — U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) cosponsored the COLAs Don’t Count Act, legislation to exempt annual cost-of-living adjustments (COLA) from impacting the benefits of those who utilize the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) for food assistance. This would help ensure participants of SNAP are not losing benefits to the added costs of inflation and allow families to keep food on the table. 

“With costs on the rise, we should be making it easier, not more difficult, for New Mexicans receiving SNAP benefits to put food on the table. Unfortunately, too many people who rely on both Social Security and SNAP are being punished for annual Cost of Living Adjustments, leading to a decrease in their overall SNAP benefits. I’m proud to join this legislation to right this wrong, expanding eligibility for the thousands of people in our state who depend on this program for their health and well-being,” said Heinrich, Chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee that oversees funding for SNAP, WIC, and other federal nutrition programs

Typically, the yearly addition of a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) to Social Security benefits is viewed positively, as it raises recipients’ monthly benefits to account for rising prices of essential goods and services due to inflation. However, when a recipient receives more money, their SNAP benefits can be reduced or even eliminated.

For instance, in 2023, Social Security recipients saw an 8.7% cost of living increase, the largest in the past 40 years. The average Social Security check rose by more than $140 a month, reaching an average monthly amount of $1,781.63. Due to current law, however, these cost of living adjustments led to an estimated 28,000 SNAP households completely losing their eligibility, and 36% of SNAP recipients saw a decrease of an average of $32 a month from their SNAP benefits.

Any reduction in a SNAP beneficiary's access to food assistance exacerbates food insecurity and hardship. Addressing Social Security’s COLAs is a necessary adjustment to make sure people are able to use their benefits to pay rent, afford health care expenses, or pay for child care, even when the cost of all of these services rise with inflation. No one should have their SNAP benefits reduced or eliminated due to this necessary adjustment. The legislation was led by U.S. Senator Peter Welch (D-Vt.).

Alongside Heinrich, the legislation was cosponsored by U.S. Senators Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), and Ed Markey (D-Mass.).

The COLAs Don’t Count Act is endorsed by Century Foundation and its Disability Economic Justice Collaborative, Food Research and Action Center, National Council on Aging, Social Security Works, Strengthen Social Security Coalition, and more.

The text of the bill is here.