By Aimee Picchi
While government benefits are geared to helping low-income Americans stay healthy by putting food on the table, there’s also a downside to receiving food aid: The money comes in only once a month.
What does that mean for low-income Americans? Many are living off fumes by the time the month winds down, as they count down the days until their next Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Social Security payment arrives.
Unfortunately, that’s taking a toll on the health of poor Americans, who are 27 percent more likely to be hospitalized for hypoglycemia low blood sugar in the last week of the month than in the first, according to new research from the University of California, San Francisco’s Department of Medicine that was published in the January issue of Health Affairs. To be sure, spending down wages and benefits soon after the check arrives is nothing new: The U.S. Department of Labor estimated in 1930 that most factory workers spent between 75 percent to 100 percent of their earnings by the end of the day after payday, the study notes. Aid recipients understand well the need to stretch out assistance to last all month, even if they don’t always manage to do so. Even today, about three-quarters of Americans live paycheck to paycheck.