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When do you have to pay back food stamps or SNAP benefits? Be careful to avoid being overpaid

Millions of people throughout the country collect food stamps on EBT cards to help combat food insecurity.

In 2019 there was over 38 million people on them. Unfortunately there are mistakes sometimes, and people are given more than they should based on income or family size.

This usually happens if the state is given incorrect information to determine a figure.


How do overpayments on food stamps happen, and do you need to pay them back?

Many things could cause an overpayment, including the issuing agency making a mistake, the household making a mistake, or someone intentionally giving the wrong information to get more money.

The easiest way to avoid this is to give all correct details when applying, double check to make sure it’s all correct, and always update the agency when circumstances change.

If you applied legally for SNAP benefits, you do not need to pay back money.


If the agency mistakenly gives you too much money, you do need to pay that back.

If you give false information intentionally to get more in food stamps that is illegal and you can face fines and jail. You may also be barred from collecting benefits in the future when you may really need them.

A lot of mistakes happen when an applicant accidentally gives wrong information or fails to update the agency.


You must take care of these things in a timely fashion or you will need to pay the funds back.

The government gives different options for how to pay back an overpayment.

If you still collect benefits, they may reduce what you get by $10 or 10% to put towards the overpayment balance.

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You may be set up with a payment plan if you don’t collect benefits anymore in order to repay the difference.

They may garnish your wages if you do not agree to any of these things, including unemployment payments and tax refunds.

The office will notify you of overpayment by mailing you a letter with instructions on how to move forward.

Related: These states are giving families an additional $95 in food stamps for November



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