Simplified Reporting and Transitional Benefits in the Food Stamp Program

Carole Trippe, Liz Schott, Nancy Wemmerus, and Andrew Burwick

May 2004

"This study examines the experiences of four States (Arizona, Louisiana, Missouri, and Ohio) that use the simplified reporting option of the Food Stamp Program; Arizona also uses the transitional benefit option. With simplified reporting, States lengthen the certification period for most food stamp recipients, minimize reporting requirements between recertifications, and reduce exposure to quality control errors. With transitional benefits, States automatically continue benefits for up to 5 months for most families that leave the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. The options were introduced in 2000 and expanded under the 2002 Farm Act. The States reported reduced staff workload, improved client access, and reduced quality control errors with simplified reporting but faced some operational challenges that made realizing the option's full potential difficult. Transitional benefits were considered a valuable support for families but required substantial planning and staff resources. The primary sources of information for the study were in depth in-person interviews with State Food Stamp Program administrators and field office staff."

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