Overpayment of food stamps means that you spent or received more benefits than you should have received. Overpayment might occur because you made an error, you committed fraud or the Department of Social Services (DSS) made a mistake. Regardless of why the overpayment occurred, you should not ignore the issue, or you risk civil fines, criminal prosecution or wage garnishment.
Review the letter sent by the Special Investigations Division carefully. Contact the investigator and confirm the overpayment amount. Consider scheduling a Fair Hearing within 90 days to dispute any allegations, especially if you have not been receiving food stamps.
Establish a reasonable payment plan based on your current income. You must discuss your income sources honestly with the investigator who is assigned to your case. Comply with the payment agreement. For example, if you owe $500, you might pay $50 a month until it is paid off.
Evaluate additional job opportunities. However, if you currently receive state or federal government assistance, such as unemployment or TANF, your benefits might be affected if your income increases significantly.
Request a gift or a short-term loan from a family member, friend, religious group or non-profit organization. Avoid getting a vehicle title or paycheck loan because you will be charged high interest rates, as much as 50 to 100 percent.
Follow up with the investigator to confirm that the repayment agreement has been fulfilled. The government will not provide you with an attorney, even if you are indigent or poor, so you are responsible for reviewing your case.
- The state can recover the overpayment amount by deducting your current benefits. For example, if you receive $500 a month and owe $100, the government might take out $75 a month in benefits.
- Contact a licensed attorney or a legal aid office if the overpayment amount is significant.
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