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Colorado's Medical Deduction Helps Put Food on Table


Wednesday, December 27, 2017   

DENVER – Nearly one in five senior citizens in Colorado is turning a portion of his or her medical expenses into extra groceries.

Jack Regenbogen, an attorney and policy advocate with the Colorado Center on Law and Policy, points to new data that shows one year after the state rolled out a new standard medical expense deduction, close to 9,000 seniors who qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program have been able to put more food on the table.

"And it's increased their benefits from around between $7 to $8,” he says, “which may not sound like a lot at first, but what that really means is they'll have an extra day and a half or extra two days of groceries each month."

The deduction allows seniors and people with disabilities who pay out of pocket for health related expenses to offset those costs with additional SNAP dollars.

Regenbogen says increasing SNAP benefits, formerly known as food stamps, by as little as $10 a month has been shown to significantly reduce hospitalization for seniors.

Regenbogen says making the deduction standardized has helped, since itemizing expenses, trying to get receipts and updating medical records was a complicated and tedious process. He notes that prescription drugs, dentures, hearing aids, prosthetics, transportation and lodging to get treatment are all counted as medical expenses in Colorado.

"And if these costs exceed $35 per month,” he says, “and there's a member in your household who has a disability or who's a senior citizen, then you should be claiming standard medical expense deduction in order to maximize your possible SNAP benefits."

Regenbogen says while the program is off to an encouraging start, even more Coloradans could get help stretching out their food budgets as counties become familiar with the new law.

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