The emergency allotments raises existing SNAP households’ monthly benefit to the maximum amount allowable, based on household size as follows. The enhanced SNAP benefit is made available through a public health emergency declaration that requires government agencies to request an extension of emergency allotment issuances on a month-to-month basis. The status of future emergency allotment benefits will be determined by this monthly approval process. If you get help from the SNAP program and have questions related to your benefits, you can contact your local Department of Social Services or visit CommonHelp online here to access account information.
In other news, a new report found Colorado's 64 counties make mistakes when issuing food stamps, and those mistakes are directly impacting people’s SNAP benefits. According to Lyz Riley Sanders, policy advocate for the CCLP, "It's actually mandated in our SNAP rules that any overpayments given to SNAP beneficiaries have to be paid back regardless of fault and regardless of reason”. The group reviewed thousands of pages of 2019 hearing decisions and data regarding the state's administration of SNAP benefits. Riley goes on to state that "The vast majority of overpayment claims are the result of agency error”. She said the data showed Colorado counties make up two-thirds of overpayment errors. Whether they're miscalculating income or not processing the reports correctly, and that ultimately leads to overissuing of SNAP benefits. She says that “one of the things that we're calling for is that the state performs further investigation to get to the bottom of what is causing this high rate of agency error”. Let’s take a look at this video from 9News that goes into further detail on what exactly is causing these overpayment errors.
In January 2022, the Colorado Department of Human Services reported that all 64 counties issued $126.9 million in SNAP benefits to more than 267,000 households. Riley goes on to state that "Its entire purpose is to help families, low-income families, and to purchase healthy food”. To be eligible for SNAP benefits, income must be less than 200% of the Federal Poverty Level. When overpayments happen, the recipient is responsible for paying back the overage dating back one year. And if there is fraud determined, the repayments can go back six years. According to Riley Sanders, "In one particular case, agency error resulted in over $3,000 that was overissued to a beneficiary and they, ultimately, had to pay that back. There should be some sort of policy that does not penalize beneficiaries for the government making a mistake on their benefits”. The report also highlighted issues with court legal hearings and due process, suggesting beneficiaries should have better access to legal help, including a way to better understand the legal and hearing process.