Food Stamp Program Application Processing Time

CED-82-87: Published: May 21, 1982. Publicly Released: May 21, 1982.

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GAO was asked to provide any readily available information on how long States take to process nonexpedited service or regular cases in the Food Stamp Program and whether processing time for these cases would be shortened if expedited service were eliminated.

State officials provided GAO with estimates of the average number of days it took to process an application or the number of days in which most applications were processed. GAO found that 31 States and the District of Columbia processed regular cases within 15 calendar days. In 8 other States, cases were processed within 22 days and, in 10 States, cases were processed within 30 days as required by food stamp legislation. The number of households applying for food stamps under expedited service varied greatly among the States. In 34 States and the District of Columbia, the percentage of all new cases receiving expedited service ranged from 4 percent to 75 percent. In about half of these States and in the District of Columbia, at least 25 percent of all new cases were receiving expedited service. Food stamp officials in 19 States said that eliminating expedited service would help reduce processing time for regular cases. Officials in 30 other States and the District of Columbia said that eliminating this service would not affect the processing time for regular cases.

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