Posts Tagged ‘SNAP’

Legislative Audit Finds Welfare Benefits Paid To Deceased Clients, Some Funds Spent After Death

By Sean Whaley | 1:16 pm September 19th, 2012

CARSON CITY – A legislative audit released today says that the state Welfare Division needs to do a better job of identifying when clients receiving benefits have passed away.

The audit, reviewed today by the Legislative Commission’s Audit Subcommittee, found 189 instances of people listed by a separate state agency as having passed away between July 1, 2007 and Dec. 31, 2009 that were listed by the division as still living.

Legislative auditors tested Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards used to provide benefits in 50 of the cases. They found that the division paid more than $11,500 in benefits to 27 of the 50 clients after their dates of death.

Benefits were paid by the agency up to 10 months after the clients died. The state’s vendor for the EBT program later removed $7,225 of unused benefits from the accounts.

Benefits provided to Nevadans include food stamps, now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and a cash grant program called Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).

Auditors also found that EBT cards in some cases were used after the dates of death of the clients.

Of the 50 cases tested, 13 were found where SNAP transactions using the cards had occurred after the clients’ dates of death. The transactions totaled $6,502 and took place from 13 to 247 days after the clients’ dates of death.

The audit made five recommendations to correct the issues found in the review, and all were accepted by the Division of Welfare and Supportive Services.

Lawmakers serving on the subcommittee noted that the amounts involved in such cases were small compared to the nearly $500 million in SNAP benefits provided to Nevadans in federal fiscal year 2011. The SNAP program is entirely federally funded.

Assemblywoman Maggie Carlton, D-Las Vegas, said no one should take money that is not due to them, but the incidents of potential abuse found in the audit appear to be few.

“If we’re talking $497 million in SNAP monies in the year 2011, and we’re looking at the possibility of it might be $6,000 worth of problems, it just seems like such a small amount and such a small problem compared to all the benefits that are being paid out here,” she said.

Legislative Auditor Paul Townsend said auditors also identified potential fraudulent activity during the review.

“It does point out there is a problem there,” he said. “It’s not a huge problem but the problem does exist. And along the way we also found some instances where there’s possibly some fraudulent activity taking place where someone is actually getting a card issued after their date of death.”

Steve Fisher, acting administrator of the division, said the flaws found in the review are serious and need to be addressed. He noted, however, that the benefits are available to an entire household, so even if a client passes away, other family members might use the EBT cards to access the benefits.

The agency is actively working on implementing all five of the recommendations, Fisher said.

The agency has an investigative unit to look for instances of fraud to recover benefits paid inappropriately, and criminal prosecutions can occur as well.


Audio clips:

Assemblywoman Maggie Carlton says the incidents of potential abuse are few compared to the amount of benefits provided:

091912Carlton :26 paid out here.”

Legislative Auditor Paul Townsend says some evidence of fraudulent activity was uncovered during the review:

091912Townsend :16 date of death.”


Nevada Has Biggest Increase in Food Stamp Caseloads

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 2:05 am July 26th, 2011

Nevada experienced the greatest growth among the states in food stamp caseloads between 2007 and 2010 with an increase of 128 percent, according to a recent report from the Urban Institute.

The jump in caseloads is attributable to a nearly 250 percent increase in state unemployment between 2007 and 2010, says the report.

The Unemployment and Recovery Project report said caseload increases across the country are a reflection of high unemployment, as well as increased participation rates and program changes that make it easier for families to get benefits.

Nearly 45 million people currently receive help from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly called food stamps), an increase of about 69 percent since the recession began near the end of 2007.

A recent Las Vegas Sun report said 329,105 Nevadans received assistance from SNAP in March, citing statistics obtained from the state Division of Welfare and Supportive Services.

Today, SNAP reaches about one in seven Americans.

  • – Over half of SNAP-supported households include children, and one in five include a disabled, non-elderly adult.
  • – About one in eight SNAP-supported households include elderly individuals.
  • – 96 percent are U.S. citizens, 1 percent are refugees, and 3 percent are documented non-citizens living in the U.S. long enough to qualify (aliens are not eligible for SNAP benefits).
  • – In 2009, about 29 percent of SNAP households had some earnings, 5 percent had some unemployment insurance, and many others reported disability or retirement income. Nearly one in five (18 percent) had no countable income.

According to a recent KRNV-TV report, not all Nevada SNAP money is spent in Nevada.

Romaine Gilliland, an administrator with the Nevada Division of Welfare and Supportive Services, told KRNV that 98 percent of Nevadans on SNAP use their money in Nevada, but more than $955,000 is spent out of state each month.

Close to half of all out-of-state usage occurs in California. The next largest out-of-state usage is Arizona.

It is unknown how much SNAP money from other states is spent in Nevada.

The current debate over reducing the federal deficit has led some to propose scaling back federal program costs. The House Budget Committee passed a major restructuring that would block grant SNAP to the states with fixed federal resources.

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s budget plan would cut the SNAP program by $127 billion — almost 20 percent — over the next ten years (2012-2021).

In addition to possible cuts to SNAP, thousands of Nevada residents who rely on financial assistance to pay their power bills likely won’t get help this year because of federal funding cuts.

The Division of Welfare and Supportive Services recently said federal funding for Nevada’s Energy Assistance Program will amount to only $4 million this year, down from $15.8 million in the fiscal year that just ended June 30.


Click the following link to see a U.S. map showing the percentage increase in SNAP enrollments across the country (PDF provided by the Urban Institute):

SNAP Enrollment Map 07-10


More Nevadans Got Food Stamps Last Year

By Andrew Doughman | 9:48 am February 7th, 2011

CARSON CITY — Nevada saw 27 percent growth in the number of residents receiving food stamps this past year.

That makes Nevada’s growth the second-highest in the nation with Idaho claiming the largest percent growth at 28 percent.

Between Nov. 2009 and Nov. 2010, 69,000 more Nevadans signed up to receive food stamps, reported the United States Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Services.

That means 322,950 Nevadans are using food stamps, which are now, technically, called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

The Pew Center on the States compiled the latest data, released this January, to compare all 50 states. The organization report‘s that 26 million people received food stamps prior to the recession, whereas 43.6 million people now get food stamps.

Idaho’s unemployment rate is 9.5 percent compared to Nevada’s 14.5 percent.