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SSI card may qualify some New Jersey residents for veggie vouchers

Summer in the garden state offers fresh produce such as fruits, vegetables and herbs, and one of the best places to get them is at local farmers' markets. Some eligible seniors may also be able to shop at those markets with vouchers: a local New Jersey Office on Aging and Disability is accepting applications for $20 worth of vouchers, while supplies last, for use at participating farmers' markets in Somerset County.

To qualify, senior applicants must meet residency, income and age restrictions: they must be residents of Somerset County, at least 60 years old, and have an individual annual income below $20,665 (or below $27,991 for a married couple). To be automatically eligible, an applicant can provide a Medicaid or SSI card or show proof of participation in a food stamp program.

If you're like many readers, you may now be wondering why Medicaid or SSI cards equate to automatic eligibility in the voucher program. The answer is simple: the state's SSI application -- which contains an income restriction, among other requirements -- is typically also the Medicaid application. In other words, if you receive SSI benefits in New Jersey, you likely are automatically eligible for Medicaid. Yet despite a shared application procedure, the programs are quite different. Whereas Medicaid is a health insurance program jointly run by state and federal funds, SSI is a form of Social Security run by the federal government and offers cash benefits.

If you are disabled but have not worked long enough to qualify for Social Security disability benefits, SSI benefits might be your solution. SSI eligible candidates may include stay-at-home parents, or people who are getting divorced and have not worked outside the home recently. Recipients of SSI typically receive a standard monthly benefit amount. An attorney can explain the requirements that you must meet in order to prove your eligibility for SSI benefits, including being able to demonstrate your financial need.

Source: NJ.com, "Farmers Market vouchers available for Somerset seniors," June 29, 2012

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