Electronic Publications from the Food Assistance & Nutrition Research Program No. (EFAN-04012) 210 pp

November 2004

Food Stamp Certification Periods and Payment Accuracy: State Experience During 1997-2001

Quality control (QC) reviews of Food Stamp Program (FSP) cases show that error rates across States range from less than 5 percent to more than 25 percent when both overpayment and underpayment error are combined. This study uses QC data for 1997-2001 and a Markov probability framework to characterize year-to-year national and State error rates into variations due to errors occurring with first-month cases (those approved at initial certification); ongoing cases (those subject to the interim action process); and expiring cases (those subject to the recertification process). This information can be used in planning corrective actions by focusing attention on phases of the administrative process that are more responsible for errors. This study also explores the effect on payment accuracy and FSP participation of more frequent recertification of food stamp cases. A motivating concern is that the use of short certification periods (3 months or less) as a strategy to reduce case error may unintentionally reduce program participation.

Keywords: Food Stamp Program, FSP, quality control, program operations and integrity, Food Assistance and Nutrition Research Program, FANRP

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