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Politics & Government

Food Stamps Program Cutting Errors, Says Wolf

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The Wolf administration says the state’s food stamps program is making fewer mistakes, marking its lowest error rate in 29 years of keeping records.

“We’re not giving anything to the wrong people and we’re doing this the right way,” said Governor Tom Wolf on Wednesday. The lower error rate is estimated to save as much as $35 million in federal money for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

Computer system updates have helped drive down instances of overpayment, underpayment, and fraud. Regular bureaucratic check-ups have also helped administrators avoid the most common errors.

“The county assistance offices, the group that screens people, they’ve been doing little tutorials,” said Robin Rifkin, a Montgomery County nutritionist and advocate with the group Act Against Hunger. “Let’s say somebody comes in and you know, has this problem – do they qualify or do they not qualify?”

The state Department of Human Services says the drop in errors is not attributed to the elimination last April of the SNAP asset test, which required applicants to prove they didn’t have significant personal savings and resources before receiving food assistance.

As of September 2015, the state-reported error rate for SNAP is 2.01 percent. That’s down from the state-reported 4.05 percent error rate at the end of 2014.

The latest error rate of 2.01 percent could still be adjusted based on a federal review.

DHS Spokeswoman Kait Gillis said the federally-adjusted error rate is “usually slightly higher.”

The 4.05 percent error rate reported at the end of 2014 was later federally adjusted to 4.27 percent. The Wolf administration says the state’s food stamps program is making fewer mistakes, marking its lowest error rate in 29 years of keeping records.

“We’re not giving anything to the wrong people and we’re doing this the right way,” said Governor Tom Wolf on Wednesday. The lower error rate is estimated to save as much as $35 million in federal money for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

Computer system updates have helped drive down instances of overpayment, underpayment, and fraud. Regular bureaucratic check-ups have also helped administrators avoid the most common errors.

“The county assistance offices, the group that screens people, they’ve been doing little tutorials,” said Robin Rifkin, a Montgomery County nutritionist and advocate with the group Act Against Hunger. “Let’s say somebody comes in and you know, has this problem – do they qualify or do they not qualify?”

The state Department of Human Services says the drop in errors is not attributed to the elimination last April of the SNAP asset test, which required applicants to prove they didn’t have significant personal savings and resources before receiving food assistance.

As of September 2015, the state-reported error rate for SNAP is 2.01 percent. That’s down from the state-reported 4.05 percent error rate at the end of 2014.

The latest error rate of 2.01 percent could still be adjusted based on a federal review.

DHS Spokeswoman Kait Gillis said the federally-adjusted error rate is “usually slightly higher.”

The 4.05 percent error rate reported at the end of 2014 was later federally adjusted to 4.27 percent.