Millions Of Americans Have Not Received SNAP Benefits And Here’s Why

The program has been labeled as “a powerful anti-poverty program” that has helped people of all demographics.

A continuous error from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as SNAP, is causing one in ten households to go without the correct amount of benefits per month.

New data released from the United States Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service revealed the program, which provides payments from the government to assist low-income individuals and families in purchasing food, has an error rate in paying enrollees in each state, with recipients either receiving too much or too little of their monthly benefits since 2023. 

The overall SNAP payment error rate across the U.S. sat at 11.68%, with an overpayment rate of over 10% and an underpayment rate of 1.64%. The data proves the program participants are more likely to receive more benefits than they’re entitled to over less than. The administrator for the Food and Nutrition Service, Cindy Long, said the numbers are something the department won’t tolerate. “SNAP is a cornerstone of our nation’s safety net, and accurate benefits are crucial for families in need and for public trust,” Long said. 

“We cannot tolerate high error rates in a program that impacts millions of lives. States must take immediate action to improve the accuracy of SNAP payments—or they will face financial penalties.”

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities labeled the program as “a powerful anti-poverty program” that has helped people of all demographics but in particular, African Americans. The program has helped 1.2 million African American families of all sizes stay out of deep poverty. Numbers from 2016 show, on average, a Black family of three sits on the poverty line with a monthly income of $940. 

With the SNAP benefit of $390, income increases by 29% to $1,330.

Constant error rates diminish these numbers as they indicate the accuracy of how each state is determining eligibility and benefit amounts. According to Newsweek, states and districts in the Northeast had the highest rates of underpayments. Washington, D.C. had the highest rate with 4.58% and Maryland came in second place with 3.91%. Delaware was next up at 3.57% and Maine at 3.41%.

For overpayments, Alaska had the highest rate, coming in at a whopping 59.59%, and New Jersey was the runner-up at 33.43%. 

To streamline their process, the department has requested additional funds to be added to the president’s FY25 Budget to improve the program’s payment accuracy and program integrity. The improvements would include funding for quality control, new computer systems, and a new Office of Training and Development.

The states with poor error rates will be required to submit a plan of corrective action, with the goal of addressing the cause of the errors.

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