How to Handle Benefit Overpayment

Arizona courts refer to Arizona SNAP overpayment as “overissuance.” Arizona defines overissuance, or food stamps overpayment, as any public assistant benefit received by a household equaling more than the household is eligible to receive. SNAP benefits overpayment was once a bigger problem than it is today on both the national and state levels. However, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and state agencies, like the Arizona Department of Economic Security (DES), continue to impede food stamps overpayment with modern technology, electronic banking and conscious efforts to combat overissuance. In fact, overpayment of public assistance benefits is significantly low in Arizona. However, there is still room for error, and overpayment does, in fact, still occur. Beneficiaries in Arizona who receive extra benefits have a responsibility to learn who to notify of SNAP overpayment. Learn more about the repayment of food stamp overpayment in the sections outlined below.

Do you have to pay back food stamps in Arizona?

With the policies that govern repayment of welfare overpayment in Arizona, the answer to this question is both yes and no. Whether or not the DES will require repayment of food stamp overpayment depends on the situation and the circumstances of the case. The Office of Accounts Receivable and Collections (OARC) oversees the collection of benefit overpayment. Department policy, under the Arizona Department of Ecomonic Security and the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, states that Arizona agencies make every effort to recoup overpayments of Nutrition Assistance benefits and TANF cash benefits. Policy further states that future benefit payments from other areas of assistance will offset the repayment of food stamp overpayment if a balance remains. In other words, other benefits, including unemployment insurance assistance, will go toward that debt until the overissuance is recovered in full. The DES will withhold regular benefit amounts and deduct the withheld benefits from SNAP to eliminate the overissuance debt. Consequently, if you owe repayment of SNAP benefits, you are ineligible to receive unemployment insurance benefits, and filing for additional benefits will provide the state with a means to collect overpaid funds, regardless of who is at fault for the overissuance.

However, there are some situations when the DES suspends or permanently cancels an investigation and the repayment of food stamps overpayment. Read more about benefits overpayment in our free, downloadable guide.

What are the causes of Arizona food stamp overpayment?

One large contributing factor to Arizona SNAP overpayment is agency error at the time of initial issuance and recertification of benefits. Do you have to pay back food stamps if overpayment is an agency error? Yes, if SNAP overpaid you. SNAP benefits disbursed as legitimate payments do not require repayment.

The best way for recipients to avoid repayment of food stamp overpayment in AZ is to report essential changes to household data to the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) regularly. As a rule of thumb, Nutrition Assistance recipients need only report total gross income changes of all persons when the total household earns more than 130 percent of the current national poverty level.

The FNS collects information on a household for the sole purpose of determining eligibility for SNAP benefits, and does not intend to pay food stamp overpayments to your household. If information changes that will affect your benefits, but your household fails to update the FNS within 10 calendar days, your benefits are considered falsified. If misinformation applies to your benefits, the DES may ultimately suspect you of fraud. You should report household changes before it gets to that point.

Who to Notify of SNAP Overpayment in Arizona

As soon as you realize you have received a food stamps overpayment in Arizona, contact Arizona DES immediately and file a proper report. If you fail to send notice, you may continue to receive SNAP overpayments and incur debt. The sooner you report the error, the better. If you report the error before the DES discovers it, investigators will likely not believe the error was unintentional on your part; however, you will still have to pay back whatever benefit amounts you receive in excess of what you are rightfully owed. Learn more about reporting benefits overpayment in Arizona by downloading our complimentary guide.

What Kind of Assistance Does the Arizona Family Assistance Services Department Offer?

The state of Arizona can assist eligible families with services such as food assistance or temporary cash assistance. To assess your eligibility, you must fill out an application and provide the required documents. To learn all of the details needed to prepare for this application process, download our comprehensive guide today.

Who Is Eligible To Benefit From the Arizona Family Assistance Services?

Eligible low-income families or individuals in Arizona can benefit from programs offered by the Family Assistance Services Department. Temporary financial assistance or Nutrition Assistance services are available to those who qualify upon filing an application. To find out if your family is eligible for these benefits, download our guide now.