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Food Stamps

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According to information provided by federal documents, Colorado is making significant mistakes with food stamp payments. Colorado has had more mistakes with food stamp payments than the average state and these errors are costing taxpayers millions of dollars every year. During 2012, Colorado made mistakes in 4.55 percent of the payments that were given to food stamp recipients. Their payments were either too high or too low. Some records show that throughout the amount of errors, 3.23 percent of recipients were overpaid. Florida had the lowest error rate last year, having only made mistakes with 0.77 percent of the payments. Rhode Island had the highest amount of errors, leading at 7.36 percent.

Colorado’s 2012 rate rose during 2011, when the state had reported that 4.55 percent of the payments held errors. Based on that information, Colorado overpaid recipients by around $24 million during 2011, also including $9 million in underpayments. The state paid out more than $762 million in food stamp payments that were federally funded. The similar data is not yet available for the year 2012. During 2010, Colorado was reported to have 3.18 percent in incorrect payments, while having overpaid $11 million in food benefits and underpaying $10 million in the meantime.

Information from a 2010 Government Accountability Office report to Congress reflects that state workers administering the program were responsible for around 66 percent of the errors. The report claims its due to the complexity of the program’s guidelines. “This complexity increases the risk that caseworkers will make errors when considering all the factors needed to determine eligibility,” the report said. “For example, caseworkers must verify several types of household assets to determine eligibility and benefit amounts, such as bank accounts, property, and vehicles.” The report then goes on to day that errors that are caused by recipients are difficult to prevent.

More than 47.6 million Americans nationwide are receiving food stamps. The average benefit is around $133 per person and $275 per household. However, those benefits will be cut since a temporary boost to the food stamp program from the 2009 stimulus package is about to expire at the end of October. Examples such as the mistakes mentioned above are reasons why many people feel that there should be a great reform of the food stamp program. Having a reform would help to work out some of the problems in the program itself and create new ways to prevent mistakes from occurring on such a regular basis. With the farm bill and food stamps still being in discussion among the House and Senate, there are still many talks among the representatives and senators regarding the need for a reform program. Although a reform of the program may or may not include cuts, in the long run, it would help by saving some of the money that is commonly lost by errors such as the ones mentioned above in Colorado state.

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