The U.S. government provides a social safety net of welfare programs aimed at helping individuals and families who need financial assistance make ends meet. The food stamp program, also known as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, gives low-income people credits that they can use to buy food to meet their basic nutritional needs. Benefit recipients can make complaints concerning the food stamp program with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and state SNAP offices.
The benefits an individual receives under the food stamp program depends on a variety of factors such as income, the number of people in a household and financial resources like cash and bank account balances. If recipients believes the government makes a mistake when calculating benefits, they have the right to complain and have a hearing where someone who is not involved in the case reviews it. A hearing can be set up by visiting a local SNAP office, calling the office or sending a request in writing.
Food stamp beneficiaries are assigned caseworkers who review their applications and determine the amount of benefits they should receive. A SNAP recipient can ask to speak to a supervisor or file a complaint about a caseworker in the event of unfair or disrespectful treatment. Specific procedures for handling caseworker complaints vary from one local office to another.
Food stamps can only be used at retailers who are licensed to participate in the SNAP program. If a benefit recipient has a program with a SNAP retailer, he can file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture by calling the Office of Inspector General hotline or by sending an email to the office. Complaints also can be made anonymously.
Discrimination, Abuse and Fraud
The U.S. government has laws that make it illegal to treat people differently based on race, color, nationality, age, gender, disabilities, religion and political beliefs. A SNAP benefit recipient can make a complaint about discrimination by writing the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service. Suspected abuse or fraud within the SNAP program can be reported by calling the appropriate state fraud hotline.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
- USA.gov: Complaints -- Food Stamps
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: Can I Get More SNAP Benefits If I Already Receive Benefits?
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: What Can I Do If I Am Having Problems With My SNAP Caseworker Or The Local Office?
Gregory Hamel has been a writer since September 2008 and has also authored three novels. He has a Bachelor of Arts in economics from St. Olaf College. Hamel maintains a blog focused on massive open online courses and computer programming.