Food Stamp Abuse at Record Low

Saturday, July 05, 2014

The federal food stamp program finished its seventh consecutive year of decline in fraud and overpayments and has the lowest error rate since the current audit method was adopted in 1981.


Officials in charge of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) recently announced that the rate of assistance going to ineligible households (or to eligible households in excessive amounts) dropped to 2.61% last year, the lowest level on record.


Quality control efforts have also reduced other errors, like underpaying eligible persons. This has produced a combined payment error rate of 3.2%, which is an all-time low mark as well for SNAP. “In other words, more than 99 percent of SNAP benefits are issued to eligible households,” according to Dottie Rosenbaum at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.


SNAP’s achievements have come despite significant increases in the number of Americans relying on this government assistance during and following the Great Recession. That’s because the program “has long had one of the most rigorous systems of any public benefit program to ensure payment accuracy,” Rosenbaum said. “When policymakers enacted the Improper Payments Act in the early 2000s to establish a framework for federal agencies to reduce improper payments, SNAP was among the few programs to meet its high standards. Emphasis on achieving and maintaining low error rates pervades the culture of the SNAP program.”


Despite the facts, some Republican lawmakers continue to insist that SNAP is ridden with fraud and have used these bogus arguments to push for major funding cuts to a program that helps feed tens of millions of people.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

SNAP Error Rates at All-Time Lows (by Dottie Rosenbaum, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities)

Food Stamp Misuse Is At An All-Time Low (by Alan Pyke, Think Progress)

Food Stamp Use among Military Families Hits Record High (by Steve Straehley, AllGov)

Which Corporations Profit from Food Stamps? (by Noel Brinkerhoff and Vicki Baker, AllGov)


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