South Dakota is refusing to accept federal assistance to boost food stamps for kids in the summer because such aid is too hard to administer. Yet just yesterday, the state was bragging about how good the Department of Social Services is at running SNAP:
South Dakota’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is one of the nation’s most efficient and effectively run programs, according to payment error rates recently released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
SNAP is a federal-state partnership that helps low-income South Dakotans purchase the food they need to stay healthy while they work to regain financial independence. The SNAP payment error rates measure the accuracy of a state’s determination of household eligibility and the amount of benefit a recipient is to receive. South Dakota’s accuracy rate was 97 percent, the best among all 50 states. The national rate was 88 percent.
“The accuracy rate is a testament of our hard work in ensuring SNAP is operating with integrity within our state,” said Department of Social Services (DSS) Cabinet Secretary Matt Althoff. “It’s vital that we ensure participants get the benefit amounts they are entitled to, while also prioritizing the efficient and effective use of taxpayer dollars.”
The USDA measures both the overpayment and underpayment rates to arrive at the error and accuracy rates. The rate is a measure of clerical mistakes or wrong or inaccurate information received from a participant.
“South Dakota’s low payment error rate reflects the dedicated efforts of our specialists in DSS’s economic assistance division and their careful attention given to each case they are asked to process,” Althoff said. “We are very grateful to have earned this distinction as it reflects the quality of training provided to our staff and the commitment the Department’s leadership holds to refining our processes and procedures” [Department of Social Services, press release, 2023.07.18].
Since 2003, South Dakota has led the nation in food-stamp accuracy. In the fiscal years with good data, South Dakota has consistently ranked in the top three for SNAP accuracy; the only year when we ranked lower was 2014, when we ranked 9th at 1.26%. Our lowest error rate was 0.94% in 2009 (Florida beat us that year with a 0.70% error rate). In Fiscal Year 2018, our error rate was a best-in-the-nation 1.04%; in 2019, 2.41%, second to Idaho at 1.25%. Our FY 2022 error rate of 3.07% is the highest reported in South Dakota in the past two decades.