The following is from The Washington Times.
The food stamp program was slammed with fraud and bungling during the pandemic, leading to the highest rate of “improper payments” on record last year, according to government data.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture says nearly 10% of payments in 2022 were “overpayments,” meaning someone received more than they deserved or collected money when they shouldn’t have been receiving any payment at all. Nearly 2% more were underpayments.
The first evaluation since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic suggests a massive amount of waste in a program that paid out $114 billion last year.
The data also shows a severe deterioration from before the pandemic, when the government recorded a total improper payment rate — overpayments and underpayments combined — of 7.4% in 2019 and 6.8% in 2018.
The Biden administration defended the performance and insisted that fraud didn’t account for all the bad payments, though it acknowledged lingering “challenges” from the pandemic that affected operations.
“Payment errors are largely due to unintentional mistakes by either the state agency or a household that result in a state determining an applicant is eligible when they are not or incorrectly calculating a participant’s benefit amount,” the USDA said.
Officials said they are taking steps, including improving communication with states and threatening penalties for those that don’t lower their bad-payment rates.
Read more here.