Program Recertification Costs: Evidence from SNAP

Tatiana Homonoff and Jason Somerville
Revise and Resubmit at American Economic Journal: Economic Policy.

We document low recertification rates for the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, which we attribute partly to procedural issues associated with the recertification process. Current recipients, who must complete a caseworker interview by recertification month end, are 20 percent less likely to recertify when assigned an interview at the end rather than the beginning of the month. We provide evidence that a substantial fraction of recertification failures appear due to mistakes: the majority of these marginal cases successfully reapply to the program, with larger effects for higher need cases. We estimate costs to participants and administrators created by rigid renewal deadlines.

Wagner Faculty