Review of Delays in Issuance of Food Stamp Authorization-To-Purchase Cards in Chicago, Illinois

CED-77-65: Published: May 9, 1977. Publicly Released: May 9, 1977.

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Some elderly recipients in Chicago had received food stamp authorization-to-purchase cards later in the month than their Federal Supplemental Security Income checks. GAO was asked to determine whether these cards were being sent about the middle of the month, and if so, why, and whether these cards could arrive at the same time as the supplemental security checks.

A random sample of 19 supplemental security/food stamp recipients disclosed that the timing created hardships for 8 of these people. Illinois has 20 different mailing schedules for public assistance documents. For no particular reason, Chicago had a different schedule from the rest of the State for supplemental security mailings. Though benefits could be prorated by computer to prevent gaps in coverage, changing mailing dates would not be feasible for several reasons. An alternative solution would involve the option of receiving one to four authorization cards monthly at the same time, with allotments proportionally reduced. This proposal should be tried before changes are made in the mailing schedules.

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