Most discussion of payment accuracy in the Food Stamp Program focuses on the overall level and cost of payment errors. Rarely does the discussion focus on the impact of payment errors on individual households affected.
This analysis – based on 2003 food stamp quality control data – leads to two broad conclusions. First, virtually all households receiving food stamps are eligible. Thus, the problem of erroneous payments is not so much one of determining eligibility, but rather one of attempting to finely target benefits to the complicated and changing circumstances of low-income households. Second, most overpayments to eligible households are small relative to household income and official poverty standards. As a result, most food stamp households are poor, and they remain poor even when overpaid.