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Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) is fighting to protect the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) for hungry families in need by stopping billions of dollars in bogus benefits resulting from bureaucratic bungling.

While tens of thousands of families are waiting to be approved for SNAP, nearly $1 billion of ineligible benefits are doled out every month, and seven states intentionally manipulated the amount of erroneous SNAP payments they were making to obtain $60 million.

“Families across the country are going hungry while bureaucrats are jumping the line to gobble up SNAP dollars, either as a meal ticket to beef up state budgets or a self-serve buffet of benefits for themselves or others who do not qualify,” said Senator Joni Ernst. “I’m snapping back! It’s time for states at fault to pay the piper and eat the costs of their taxpayer waste. Instead of overserving bureaucrats, let’s end the waste and set a place at the table for hungry families.”

“As stewards of America’s tax dollars, state and federal governments alike have a responsibility to protect valuable food stamp resources and ensure they’re available for the truly needy—not sent to those who don’t even qualify,” said Tarren Bragdon, president and CEO of the Foundation for Government Accountability. “I applaud Sen. Ernst for holding bureaucrats’ feet to the fire and working to ensure that food stamp overpayments are reined in and directed towards those who need them most.”

“This is the definition of a dinner-table issue. Senator Ernst has identified a kind of improper payment that strikes right at the heart of an American’s life – their need to feed themselves and their families nutritious foods. While we’ve demonstrated that fraud runs rampant across government, stealing right from our plates is an especially pernicious way to make your ill-gotten gains. We applaud Senator Ernst for working to address this abuse of a core safety-net program. The SNAP abuse is part of an enormous $3 trillion worth of improper payments the government admits have been made since 2004. Total improper payments are more than the entire annual GDP of France, a G7 country. Starting to get a handle on the fraud through better spending controls and recordkeeping is critical, and SNAP is a worthy place to start,” said Adam Andrzejewski, Founder and CEO of Open the Books.

Most SNAP payment errors are made in the form of “overpayments,” or benefits paid to recipients who are not eligible or those that receive benefits they’re not eligible for. In 2022, there were approximately $11.2 billion in overpayments. However, the true cost is unknown, because errors totaling $54 or less are excluded.

Ernst’s Snap Back Inaccurate SNAP Payments Act could reduce spending by nearly $1 billion a month by requiring all errors, regardless of the amount, to be counted and directing state governments to stop giving out ineligible benefits, or they will have to eat some of the costs. Specifically, it will:

  • Direct states to recollect SNAP overpayments, so each household only receives exactly what they are eligible for,
  • Require states to pay back what they owe,
  • Make states accountable for payment error rates to incentivize better management of funds, and
  • Improve the accuracy of SNAP payment error rates by requiring all errors to be reported.

Author: Press Release


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