The Food Stamp Program:

Overissued Benefits Not Recovered and Fraud Not Punished

CED-77-112: Published: Jul 18, 1977. Publicly Released: Jul 18, 1977.

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The Government is losing over half a billion dollars annually because of overissued food stamp benefits caused by errors, misrepresentation, and suspected fraud by recipients and by errors of local food stamp offices.

For every $100 of the more than $5 billion annual benefits issued nationally, overissuances account for about $12; only about 12 cents of that $12 have been recovered. The eight local projects reviewed were doing little to identify and recover the value of these overissuances. At five of the eight projects, about half of the dollar value of the claims established for food stamp overissuances was classified as involving suspected fraud by recipients, but very few recipients were prosecuted or otherwise penalized.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Matter: Congress should authorize the Secretary of Agriculture to allow the States to keep some portion of the money recovered from recipients of overissued benefits and to increase from 50 percent to 75 percent the Federal share of the administrative costs associated with processing the suspected fraud cases. Congress should also authorize the Department of Agriculture, in consultation with the Department of Justice, to handle most suspected recipient fraud cases administratively rather than referring them for criminal prosecution.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Department of Agriculture should take a number of steps to make sure that States adequately identify and recover overissued food stamp benefits and punish people who engage in food stamp fraud.

    Agency Affected:


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