Research Highlights

Administrative requirements discourage SNAP recipients from remaining in the program

Complicated paperwork may be discouraging SNAP recipients from remaining in the popular food assistance program. That's the main takeaway from a new Upjohn Institute working paper by Colin Gray of MIT. In “Why Leave Benefits on the Table? Evidence from SNAP,” Gray shows that logistically difficult reporting and recertification procedures are leading many households eligible for the near-cash benefits to exit the program.

Gray's paper makes three key contributions:

1) It documents the low levels of retention in SNAP and that exits usually occur in months during which reporting and recertification paperwork is due;
2) It shows that many exiting the program remain eligible, and failing to submit paperwork is the main reason for exiting; and
3) It provides quasi-experimental evidence that administrative barriers substantially affect retention among eligible households.

Gray argues that policymakers should consider taking advantage of improvements in administrative data linkages among government agencies to lessen the reporting burdens on SNAP recipients.

Read "Why Leave Benefits on the Table? Evidence from SNAP" by Colin Gray.