NEW YORK (WWTI) — Changes have been made in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for those with disabilities or older adults living in New York.

On Monday, New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced changes in SNAP to further assist individuals who fall into these categories.

This included simplifying the SNAP application, extending the duration that households can receive benefits before recertification and eliminating the interview requirement during the recertification process. According to Gov. Hochul, these changes aim to encourage these individuals to enroll in the program.

“New York’s senior and disabled communities were hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to food insecurity in some cases and exacerbating it in others,” Governor Hochul said in a press release. “Allowing easier access to SNAP benefits for these groups will help alleviate this stress.”

Gov. Hochul added that a leading reason for lower participation in SNAP is the length and complexity of the application. The regular application includes nine pages of questions and information that determine a household’s eligibility.

To increase accessibility, the NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance received approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to offer a simplified SNAP application. Households are now required to only complete a single sheet application to apply or recertify for benefits.

The Governor stated that because many older adults and those with disabilities live on fixed incomes, less information is typically required to verify eligibility and calculate benefits.

Additionally, starting in December, eligible older adults can recertify benefits for 36 months. This is 12 months longer than the previous timeline.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program also recently saw the largest benefit increase in history. In late October an increase to the sliding scale took effect and rose to $835 a month for a family of four, an increase of 21%.