And even though she doesn't smoke, Lewis suffers from emphysema, which prevents her from working.
Lewis attributes the emphysema to a lifetime of bartending in smoke-filled nonprofit social clubs, such as Elks and Moose lodges.
Her adult daughters who live with her aren't in a position to work -- one is a new mom, and another is due to give birth soon.
The low point came this summer, when she didn't have enough to pay the full electricity bill. Lewis needs power to run her breathing machine to treat her illness. So she pawned her wedding ring for $325.
A few weeks ago, she started getting disability payments for her disease. She promptly used it to get back her ring for $487 before it was sold.
"That was $162 I paid in interest to keep the lights on and put food on the table," Lewis said.
Some 47.6 million people, or nearly 15% of the population, get them, according to September federal data. That compares to 26.3 million, or 8.7% of the population, in 2007. The average benefit per person is $133.19 a month.
For families who rely on food stamps, it means a lot of planning and tough choices.
Hugh Sewell, 54, has been on food stamps for two years. He gets the maximum allowed for his family of three -- $526 a month. The benefits will likely be cut by $29 to $497, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
That would be tough, Sewell says. The first time the family got food stamps, after he lost his job in 2010, they blew through the allotment halfway through the month.
After that, the Sewells started making detailed budgets, meal plans and shopping lists.
"We buy a lot of beans, rice and potatoes," said Sewell, who lives in Philadelphia. "Towards the end of the month, you're eating all the box stuff, and a lot more pasta with sauce."