By Maggie Thurber | Special to Ohio Watchdog
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has congratulated Ohio for a Supplemental Nutrition Program payment error rate of 3.4 percent in federal fiscal year 2011, which is below the national average of 3.8 percent.
SNAP, the food stamp program, is managed by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. This is the third year the state’s error rate has been below the national average, though the 2011 rate is higher than the 2010 rate of 3.31 percent accuracy, ODJFS said.
“This is great news for those we serve and for Ohio taxpayers, as well,” ODJFS Director Michael Colbert said in a news release. “A low error rate means that the people who need and are eligible for food assistance are getting it, and in the correct amounts. Ohio’s county departments of job and family services are doing an excellent job of administering this program.”
SNAP provides more than $2.95 billion in food assistance to about 1.8 million Ohioans. The benefits are paid for by the federal government, but the state covers about half of the administrative costs.
While the percentage is low, it still equates to $100.3 million in payment errors. For the nationwide program, the federal government indicates the source of errors is 72.4 percent from state agencies and 27.1 percent from clients.
ODJFS said they take additional steps to prevent misuse after benefits have been distributed. They flag individuals with unusually high replacement card requests and report them for review. They said new federal rules soon will allow them to require explanations for why a replacement card is needed if recipients ask for four new cards in a 12-month period.
Individuals convicted of defrauding the SNAP program can be banned for life from collecting food assistance, fined up to $250,000, and sent to jail for up to 20 years.