More Augusta area residents receiving food stamps, disability benefits

More area residents are receiving food stamps and disability benefits, following a nationwide trend.

According to the Georgia Department of Human Services, the number of people on food stamps or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits in Region 7 increased every six months from July 2007 to January of this year, climbing 65 percent during that time.

The 14 counties in the region are Burke, Columbia, Glascock, Hancock, Jeffer­son, Jenkins, Lincoln, McDuffie, Richmond, Scre­ven, Taliaferro, Warren, Washington and Wilkes.

In July 2007, 66,809 people in the region received food stamps. The number had increased to 110,381 in January, said Ravae Graham, the deputy director of legislative affairs and communications for the Department of Human Services.

Nationwide, nearly 45 million people, one in seven U.S. residents, received SNAP benefits during an average month in fiscal year 2011, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Total federal spending on the program more than doubled between 2007 and 2011, reaching $78 billion. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that total federal spending on the program will peak at $82 billion in fiscal year 2013.

The number of people in Region 7 receiving disability benefits from the Social Security Administration has also increased. As of December 2010, the latest data available, 8,575 people in Richmond County received disability benefits, up from 6,840 in December 2009, an increase of 25 percent.

In Columbia County, 2,820 people received disability benefits in 2010, compared with 2,110 in 2009, an increase of 34 percent. The number of recipients in McDuffie, Burke, Aiken and Edgefield counties increased.

“Nationally, we have seen an increase in initial disability claims of about 25 percent during the economic downturn,” said Frank Viera, the deputy regional communications director for the Social Security Administration’s Atlanta Public Affairs Office.

As of December 2010, 10,184,157 people nationwide, including 307,907 in Georgia and 192,113 in South Carolina, were receiving disability benefits, Viera said.

Nationally, the Social Security Administration has also seen an increase in the number of disability applications filed because of the aging of baby boomers and the economic downturn, he said.

County numbers are not available for the number of applications for disability benefits, but 62,283 people in Georgia have applied in 2012 to date. In South Carolina, 32,818 people have applied to date, Viera said.

 

FOOD STAMPS FOR REGION 7

Region 7 includes Burke, Columbia, Glascock, Hancock, Jefferson, Jenkins, Lincoln, McDuffie, Richmond, Screven, Taliaferro, Warren, Washington and Wilkes counties

MonthHouseholdsNumber of people
January 200727,33568,207
July 200726,71766,809
January 200827,44468,140
July 200829,17271,895
January 200932,78079,609
July 200936,17486,476
January 201039,87693,448
July 201042,52498,858
January 201145,205102,689
July 201147,546106,774
January 201250,236110,381

 

Source: Ravae Graham, the deputy director of legislative affairs and communications for the Department of Human Services

 

DISABILITY BENEFITS

 December 2010

CountyNumber of people receiving disability benefits
Richmond County8,575
Columbia County2,820
McDuffie County1,075
Burke County1,250
Aiken County6,540
Edgefield County1,005

 

December 2009

Richmond County6,840
Columbia County2,110
McDuffie County830
Burke County945
Aiken County5,055
Edgefield County815

 

Sources: Frank Viera, the deputy regional communications director for the Social Security Administration’s Atlanta Public Affairs Office, and Social Security Administration’s Office of Retirement and Disability Policy report of beneficiaries by state and county for 2009

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