Kansas stems streak of rising SNAP errors

SNAP’d: After several years of rising errors, Kansas has finally managed to get its SNAP payments under control.

By Travis Perry │ Kansas Watchdog

OSAWATOMIE, Kan. — Kansas flubbed more than $18.9 million in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Payments during fiscal 2013.

But hey, look on the bright side, the state has finally managed to snap its streak of rising payment errors stretching back to 2010.

Overall, Kansas incorrectly paid out 3.99 percent of the roughly $474 million distributed during fiscal 2013. To break it down, that means last year the state overpaid on 3.24 percent ($15.4 million) and underpaid on .75 percent ($3.5 million) of all SNAP disbursements

Read more: Florida wins $7 million for wasting $47 million in food stamp funds

For comparison, here’s a rundown of how the Sunflower State has fared in the years leading up to its recent improvement:

  • Fiscal 2010 – 4.79 percent error rate / $18.36 million
  • Fiscal 2011 – 5 percent error rate / $22.1 million
  • Fiscal 2012 – 5.45 percent error rate / $24.8 million

Theresa Freed, communications director for the Kansas Department for Children and Families, told Kansas Watchdog last year that the state’s elevated error rate was caused, at least in part, by Kansas’ focus on paying benefits before eligibility was verified. Now, it seems, that’s no longer the case.

“We are now doing a better job of rechecking applications to ensure we have all needed information prior to authorization, to prevent errors from ever happening,” Freed said.

“Our (Economic and Employment Services) staff meets with our regional director on a monthly basis to discuss the error rate,” she added. “We are also continually researching the types of cases that are more prone to errors so we can be proactive in preventing inaccurate payments.”

Despite the improvement, Kansas is still above the 3.2 percent national average for erroneous SNAP payments.

“The agency continues to analyze the error reporting data, looking for trends and issues that can be addressed,” Freed noted. “Although we have substantially improved our accuracy, we have not compromised our integrity. We continue to report as we always have.”

Kansas’ SNAP program serves 127,651 households, including 150,003 adults and 135,979 children.

Related: Kansas food stamp payment errors in the millions
Related: Kansas’ millions in food stamp overpayments take years to recoup

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Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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