Program Recertification Costs: Evidence from SNAP

Tatiana Homonoff and Jason Somerville
American Economic Journal: Economic Policy.

Participants in means-tested programs must periodically document eligibility through a recertification process. If all cases that fail recertification are ineligible, the exact timing of this process should be irrelevant. We find that later recertification interview assignments for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which leave less time to reschedule missed interviews, decrease recertification success by 22 percent. The consequences of not recertifying due to later interviews are highly skewed: most cases quickly re-enroll, while one quarter remain off SNAP for over a year. The marginal disenrolled case is as needy as the average participant, suggesting inefficient screening from late interviews.

Wagner Faculty