Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

USDA Food and Nutrition Service Resumes Publication of State SNAP Error Rates for FY 2022

Press Release
Release No.
FNS 013.23
Contact: FNS Press Team

WASHINGTON, June 30, 2023 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) today published states’ fiscal year 2022 payment error rates for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). This resumes an annual process that was paused during the COVID-19 pandemic as part of an effort by Congress to provide state agencies with flexibility and bandwidth to meet unprecedented demand for the program and help individuals and families keep food on the table.

USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services Stacy Dean issued the following statement:

“SNAP played a critical role throughout the pandemic, helping millions of Americans access food and preventing hunger from skyrocketing across the country. In spring of 2020—when millions of Americans lost their jobs before the pandemic was under control—SNAP was expanded on a temporary and emergency basis, at the direction of a bipartisan majority in Congress, and policy flexibilities were created to help the rising number of people in need of nutrition assistance. Workers in SNAP state agencies responded swiftly to meet this demand and provided a vital lifeline for families in need. However, these circumstances also put incredible strain on program administration. The first state-by-state set of payment error rates coming out of the pandemic reflects the challenging circumstances under which the state agencies were operating, and from which many are continuing to recover.

“USDA is committed to supporting states in improving payment accuracy in SNAP to ensure the program effectively and efficiently serves those who need it and promotes good stewardship of taxpayer dollars. We are doubling down to work with state partners to find ways to decrease payment errors and tackle the issues aggressively at their root cause. Together, we will continue to move toward a stronger, efficient, more modern future for SNAP and those it serves.”

As part of the flexibilities granted to states beginning in spring 2020, Congress removed the requirement for states to conduct quality control reviews, which resulted in USDA being unable to publish the annual national and state payment error rates for fiscal years 2020 and 2021. In fiscal year 2022, states resumed reporting error rates to USDA, allowing for the reinstatement of the annual publication.

However, many of the changes and challenges from the pandemic lingered, including staff vacancy rates at state agencies as high as 25 percent and difficulty hiring and training new case managers. These challenges are reflected in the fiscal year 2022 data, which indicate that together, states had an overpayment error rate of 9.84 percent and an underpayment error rate of 1.7 percent. For the state-by-state rates in FY 2022, see this table.

These payment error rates are not synonymous with fraud. Rather, the SNAP payment error rate is a measure of how accurately states determine eligibility and benefit amounts. It is one piece of the broader SNAP Quality Control System, which is one of the most robust of all federal programs. Payment errors are largely due to unintentional mistakes by either the state agency or a household that result in a state determining an applicant is eligible when they are not or incorrectly calculating a participant’s benefit amount.

Importantly, because of the temporary policy circumstances in place during the pandemic, the overpayment rates do not directly equate to a loss to the government. The payment error rates reported today reflect payment accuracy of the regular SNAP benefit, but in fiscal year 2022, 45 states were providing emergency allotments. The overpayment rate does not account for the fact that, while some households received an overpayment of their basic SNAP benefit, the combined total of regular SNAP plus their emergency allotment payment did not exceed the capped amount allowed by law.

Emergency allotments, which were instituted at the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, proved to be an effective tool, preventing an estimated 4.2 million people from falling into poverty and reducing childhood poverty by 14 percent in the states with the allotments in 2021, according to a study by the Urban Institute.

USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service has already taken numerous steps to help states accelerate their progress on reducing payment errors moving forward and will continue working aggressively with states toward that goal. Some of the many actions USDA is taking to support states in reducing payment error rates include:

  • Establishing frequent communication with states on corrective actions and opportunities for targeted improvement.
  • Notifying states that are at risk of financial penalties if they do not lower their fiscal year 2023 error rate.
  • Providing extensive training, guidance, and tailored assistance to help all state and local SNAP agencies identify and address the root causes of the errors.
  • Updating guidance on best practices, providing more real-world examples of payment accuracy strategies that have worked in the past.
  • Facilitating peer-to-peer learning opportunities so state agencies can learn from other states with similar characteristics or challenges.
  • Seeking resources through the President’s Fiscal Year 2024 Budget to bolster FNS program integrity efforts, including support for a system that would equip USDA with better visibility into states’ financial and program integrity risks.
  • Developing tools to help states identify error-prone households.
For additional information, see:
Page updated: November 14, 2023