Food Stamp Program:

Restoration of Improperly Denied or Terminated Benefits

RCED-87-51: Published: Oct 30, 1986. Publicly Released: Oct 30, 1986.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO examined: (1) how federal and state administrative practices affect the participation of persons eligible for Food Stamp Program benefits; and (2) a problem in Illinois' procedures relating to the restoration of food stamp benefits to persons whose benefits were improperly denied or terminated.

GAO found that, although states are responsible for local administration and daily program operation, the federal government finances about 50 percent of the states' administrative expenses. The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) requires that states continually monitor and report on: (1) how well they have administered the Food Stamp Program; and (2) errors they make in determining eligibility for program benefits. GAO also found that, in Illinois: (1) a local office of the state Department of Public Aid did not evaluate the cases of participants that the state found were improperly denied food stamps or terminated from the program, or restore those benefits, where appropriate; (2) the state did not establish a procedure to ensure that local offices restored the benefits, where appropriate; (3) of the 115 cases that Illinois had denied or terminated, 26 had no state review; (4) although the state usually transmitted letters regarding improperly denied or terminated cases to local offices, it did not keep a record of the transmittals; and (5) the FNS evaluations of Illinois' program operations did not detect that the local offices were not properly evaluating and restoring the benefits or instruct Illinois to include a procedure in its policies to ensure that the local offices complied with state directives.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In accordance with this recommendation, the Department of Agriculture (USDA) required Illinois to make all necessary restorations of food stamps. That process is ongoing and USDA stated that all appropriate restorations will be made.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, FNS, should instruct Illinois to evaluate the cases and, where appropriate, restore benefits for the 26 households listed in the report that had benefits improperly denied or terminated.

    Agency Affected: Department of Agriculture: Office of the Secretary: Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services: Food and Nutrition Service

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: As recommended, USDA required Illinois to establish and implement a food stamp restoration policy and procedure. Illinois established and is implementing the policy and procedure.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, FNS, should instruct Illinois to establish a policy and implement a procedure to ensure that benefits are restored, where appropriate, in all such cases.

    Agency Affected: Department of Agriculture: Office of the Secretary: Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services: Food and Nutrition Service

 

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