These States Have High Food Stamp Payment Errors

The food stamp program makes billions in improper payments each year.

Improper payments are government outlays that should not have been made or were made in the wrong amount. These improper payments often include fraud, abuse, and waste, but are not always indicative of illegal activity.

The reported improper payment rates for the food stamp program vary alarmingly across states, indicating stark disparities in program administration.

In FY 2022, an astonishing 57 percent of food stamp payments in Alaska were reported as improper, along with 35.6 percent in Maryland, 23 percent in Oregon, 21.8 percent in Hawaii, and 19.8 percent in Tennessee.

Meanwhile, the reported improper payment rate in South Dakota was 3.1 percent, 4.3 percent in Wyoming, and 4.4 percent in Wisconsin.

Improper payments are likely significantly higher than the reported amounts. In fact, the 2014 Farm Bill instructs USDA to ignore improper payments up to a “quality control tolerance threshold.” This threshold was set at $37 in 2014 and increases with inflation each year. In 2022, the “tolerance threshold” was $48. Thus, any improper payment up to $48 in 2022 was not reported. The tolerance threshold increases to $56 for FY 2024.

The Snap Back Inaccurate SNAP Payments Act, introduced by Rep. Randy Feenstra (R-IA) and Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) would clarify that all improper payments must be counted as errors.

Read the EPIC Report: Food Stamps: A Culture of Dependency.

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