By Rachel Cahill, Consultant
Tara Britton, Director of Public Policy and Advocacy | Edward D. and Dorothy E. Lynde Fellow
Despite no evidence of widespread fraud in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in Ohio or nationally, the Ohio Senate added last-minute provisions to the state budget that would restrict access to the program. What policymakers may not realize is SNAP has a long record of impeccable program integrity.
What policymakers may not realize is SNAP has a long record of impeccable program integrity.
SNAP consistently delivers the right benefits to the right people at the right time, due to its rigorous quality control and accurate payment system. As the country emerges from the devastating hardship brought on by the pandemic – including elevated rates of food insecurity for families with children and in communities of color – Ohio policymakers should focus on reducing administrative burdens that prevent eligible families from accessing SNAP, rather than adding new paperwork requirements and eligibility restrictions.
Provisions added in the Senate version of the budget threaten access to SNAP for thousands of Ohioans who are eligible, all in the name of “fraud prevention.” Targeting a critical nutrition program that already reaches an exceedingly high integrity bar makes little sense in the midst of so many other pressing issues for Ohio lawmakers. Here are just a few examples of the rigorous steps that are taken in SNAP to ensure only those who are eligible are receiving benefits.
- Ohio SNAP applicants must provide detailed information about their household composition, income, and expenses and must be interviewed by a county caseworker who determines the household’s precise benefit amount.
- Most Ohio SNAP recipients must proactively confirm their eligibility every six months through either an “interim report” – a form that must be completed and returned with updated proof of income – or a “recertification” – a re-enrollment process that requires more verification and yet another interview. SNAP households also must immediately report changes in household composition or income that puts them over the eligibility limit for their household size.
- County Job and Family Services offices in Ohio also use electronic databases to confirm the continued eligibility of SNAP participants. In 2018, Ohio reported using 19 different electronic data sources – including 14 national data sources and five state data sources – to confirm SNAP eligibility.
- In fiscal year 2019, Ohio’s payment error rate remained low and in alignment with the national average. Payment error rates are not a measure of fraud, only paperwork mistakes. The rate of actual fraud (called “trafficking” in SNAP), is just 1.5%.
You can read more about the anti-fraud processes in place in Ohio’s SNAP here: https://www.communitysolutions.com/research/ohio-snap-program-maintains-strong-anti-fraud-protections/