WASHINGTON, Dec. 8, 2017 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has cleared the state of Arizona to test a program aimed at limiting fraud and reducing illegal trafficking in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) electronic benefit (EBT) cards. The two-year waiver, granted by USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) to the Arizona Department of Economic Security (DES), will allow the state to require direct contact with SNAP benefit recipients who request a replacement EBT card more than two times in a 12 month period.
Current rules stipulate that such contact be made no sooner than after four requests for a replacement card in a 12-month period.
“We want to make sure that people are getting the nutrition they need, but we also must maintain the integrity of the SNAP program for the benefit of recipients and for the protection of the taxpayers,” said Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. “As is the case with this Arizona waiver, USDA will consider state flexibilities where the goals are to help people transition into self-sufficient lives, to improve customer service, or to stop fraud and abuse.”
Arizona requested the waiver to test if requiring earlier contacts with recipients requesting replacement EBT cards will improve program integrity.
“I appreciate Secretary Perdue’s willingness to work with states to improve the administration of this program,” said Arizona Governor Doug Ducey. “Through this policy, we can provide a hand up to those in need while ensuring we have the tools necessary to crack down on fraud and protect taxpayers.”
To assess the effectiveness of this waiver, Arizona DES will collect data and report to FNS during the waiver period – through November 2019 — to show what impact the lower replacement card threshold has on potential misuse of program benefits.
FNS administers 15 nutrition assistance programs, including the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs, the Child and Adult Care Food Program, the Summer Food Service Program, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which together comprise America’s nutrition safety net. For more information on FNS assistance during times of disaster, visit fns.usda.gov/disaster.
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