Food Stamps, Cash Assistance Article


The Food Stamp and Cash Assistance Program: Overpayments

The Food Stamp and Cash Assistance Program: Overpayments

by Southern Arizona Legal Aid, Inc.

What if DES gives me too much money or too many food stamps?

If DES gives you too much money or too many food stamps, it is called an overpayment.

How do overpayments happen?

Overpayments happen for various reasons. For example, DES may not budget your correct income or resources. Or, you may receive payments when you are not eligible for those payments.

What happens to cause the overpayment?

Even if it is not your fault that you were overpaid, DES may still collect the overpayment from you.

What should I do if I discover the overpayment?

To stop the overpayment from getting larger, you should contact your DES worker immediately if you discover you are being paid too much. Even if you discover the overpayment before DES, you may still be charged with an overpayment and you will be required to pay it back.

What should I do if I disagree with the amount of the overpayment?

You should request a fair hearing immediately by contacting DES. You should ask DES to explain the reason for the overpayment. You should also check whether DES calculated the overpayment correctly. If you think DES is wrong, you should tell the Judge why it's wrong.

How will DES collect the overpayment?

If you are not currently receiving benefits, DES can collect the overpayment by any legal means. For example, DES could keep your income tax refunds or sue you in court to garnish certain wages. Your credit may be affected if DES obtains a judgment against you.

Can I stop DES from collecting overpayment?

Probably not, but you may be able to control the amount you have to pay each month toward the overpayment. If you do not request a fair hearing, or you lose the fair hearing, the overpayment decision will become final and you will be responsible for paying it back.

If you are currently receiving benefits, DES will keep a portion of your monthly benefits to repay the overpayments.

If you are not getting benefits, you can make a payment plan with a monthly payment that fits within your budget. If you make regular monthly payments in the agreed upon amount, DES will probably not take your income tax refunds or sue you in court.

If you have questions about the overpayment, you should contact the DES Office of Accounts Receivable and Collections office at 1-800-236-1475.

What if my only income is social security disability or SSI?

By federal law, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and SSI benefits are protected from judgment. This means that if you are sued to repay the overpayment, a judge cannot order you to repay the debt from your SSDI or SSI.

However, if your Social Security Disability or Retirement benefits are more than $750 a month, DES can refer your food stamp overpayment to the U.S. Department of Treasury to collect the overpayment by reducing your SSA benefits. This is called administrative offset. Before your SSA check is reduced, you should receive a letter explaining the offset and advising you what to do if you disagree.

How can I get legal assistance?

There are various free legal service agencies throughout the state for people with low income, depending upon availability. For more information, contact the legal aid office in your area. Be sure to choose the county where you live on the right side of the page; and find an office near you under the "Find Legal Help" on this website.

Reviewed November 2003


Comments:

On 9/6/07
Jennifer said
My fiance and I suffer from serious mental illnesses and are unable to work. We've spent most of the year in hospitals.He hasn't got income and my SSDI is being terminated.

QUESTIONS

  • where do I go to apply for cash foodstamp ?
  • How much is the cash aid
  • i am 17 years old i have an 8 month old daughter i don't have any type of income to take care of me or my child i am trying to finish school i don't stay with neither one of my parents i am with my grandfather. am i eligible for receiving both?
  • i have two questions.. I am 22 and live with my parents and am applying for food stamps and cash assistance do I include them on my application? What are the amounts of benefits I can expect to receive if approved?
  • Will receiving cash assistance affect my unemployment payment?
  • Why is IT that I and maybe many more other people cannot get someone on the phone numbers and there are many numbers that I have called on 3-25- & 3-26-13 to renew my Food Stamps ..and no answer... I left 3-4 messages on 480 834-4066 no return calls.... I have called and called 602 771-1509 and busy busy busy all day long....
  • Once approved, how do we find out how much in food stamps we will get monthly?
  • I am a military mother of 3 who's husband went to jail for two years. I cannot find employment, he cant pay child support, and I can't get any cash assistance to provide for my children. Family is helping but what can I do? I live in my parents home they were going to rent out, but have bills and children. The state so no on cash assistance, so I only get food assistance. Isn't there something I can do during interim of trying to find a job?
  • I was approved for foods stamps but only get 103 a month.My income is only 749 a month.All my money goes for bills. How do they come up with this?It can't be right.
  • I want to reques benefits for this month My case number:03855797 Because I'm waiting get line for two day I don't receive somebody call me interview Can you help me check my case right now and let me know Thank you for helping!

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  • State Bar of Arizona
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    Referral number 602-257-4434
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    www.pimacountybar.org
    Referral number 520-623-4625
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline
    800-799-7233
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