The percentage of SNAP (formerly food stamp) benefit dollars issued to ineligible households or to eligible households in excessive amounts fell for the seventh consecutive year in 2013 to 2.61 percent, newly released U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) data show. That’s the lowest national overpayment rate since USDA began the current system of measuring error rates in 1981. The underpayment error rate fell to 0.6 percent, also the lowest on record. The combined payment error rate — that is, the sum of the overpayment and underpayment error rates — fell to an all-time low of 3.2 percent. Less than 1 percent of SNAP benefits go to households that are ineligible. In other words, more than 99 percent of SNAP benefits are issued to eligible households.Additionally, only one percent of SNAP benefits are "trafficked"—sold for cash.
If one subtracts underpayments (which reduce federal costs) from overpayments, the net loss to the government last year from errors was about 2 percent of benefits. In comparison, 16.9 percent of taxes legally due in 2006 (the most recently studied year) went unpaid, according to Internal Revenue Service estimates.
Of course, congressional Republicans consider poor people eating anything but crusts and gruel to be fraud, because really their crusade against food stamps is about hating poor people, not good government or fiscal responsibility or anything like that. (In fact, food stamp expenditures can save money in the long term, since children with access to food stamps are more likely to graduate from high school and less likely to stunted growth, heart disease, or obesity.)