New Proposal Could Require States To Recover Food Stamp Overpayments

Law May Require States to Recover $11 Billion in Food Stamp Funds

( – Republican Iowa Senator Joni Ernst has put forward a bill that would see states submit more accurate and more frequent reports on their management of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, more widely known as the federal food stamps program.

According to the senator, the SNAP program, which is funded by the federal government but managed by state governments, sent out roughly $11.2 million in overpayments last year.

I’m snapping back!” Ernst said in a statement. The senator accused local state governments of “jumping the line to gobble up SNAP dollars” which she said are used as supplements to state budgets or a “self-serve buffet of benefits for themselves or others who do not qualify.” All this, Ernst said, while “families across the country are going hungry.”

The senator further alleges that the cost of the overpayments could be even higher, as states are not required to report errors on overpayment that are $54 or less per recipient.

Ernst’s bill, “Snap Back Inaccurate SNAP Payments Act” will require states to report all overpayments, as well as reimburse the federal government for amounts it overpays.

The use and issuance of food stamps grew significantly, with 35 million Americans receiving them in 2019, and 41 million in 2022. The national overpayment rate for the food stamps program rose to 9.84% in 2022 from just 6.18% in 2019.

Alaska has one of the largest percentages of errors in terms of food stamp overpayments, with data showing a 57% error rate – compared to the national average of 11.5%.The error rate covers the period beginning October 2021 to September 2022. The Alaska Division of Public Assistance points to a lack of manpower and technological resources as the reason why the state agency is struggling to administer the program in an efficient and accurate way.

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