The Department of Agriculture revealed on Friday that a high percentage of SNAP payments were made inadvertently, partly attributable to the agency’s emergency response during the pandemic.

In this Jan. 12, 2015, photo, a supermarket displays stickers indicating they accept food stamps in West New York, N.J. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Rates of Overpayment Increased

From fiscal 2019 to fiscal 2022, the states’ overpayment mistake rate increased by more than 3%; in 2018, it was 9.84%, while in 2019, it was 6.18%, as reported by Washington Examiner

Stacy Dean, a USDA official who oversees nutrition, said in a statement that the agency is committed to helping states improve accuracy in SNAP payments to ensure the program effectively and efficiently supports those in need and encourages good stewardship of taxpayer resources.

The USDA asserted that the historically high error rate of SNAP payment was brought on by the extraordinary demand for SNAP, which assisted individuals and families in putting food on the table whereas COVID-19 resulted in the loss of millions of jobs.

The first state-by-state breakdown of the SNAP payment mistake rates during the pandemic, according to Dean, “reflects the difficult operating environment state agencies were operating in, from which many are still recovering.”

READ ALSO: $2,000 Baby Bonus Payment; Part of Child Tax Credit Expansion in U.S.

SNAP – Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

In response to the epidemic, the federal government implemented emergency SNAP, which provides participants with benefits that are equivalent to the maximum benefit allowed for their household size after deducting their monthly base benefit.

SNAP emergency allotments, which were designed to assist individuals with keeping food on the table during the COVID-19 timeframe, came to an end in March 2023. Consolidated Appropriations Act, passed by Congress last year to end emergency allocations, alarmed low-income members, particularly the elderly. The original plan was for the allotments to continue through April when President Joe Biden’s administration deemed COVID-19 to no longer be a public health emergency.

“We are stepping up our efforts to collaborate with state partners to find strategies to reduce SNAP payment errors and aggressively attack the issues at their source,” Dean added.

READ ALSO: Hollywood Tax Credits Outweighs the State’s Distressed Hospitals’ Support: Improper Budget Allocation