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State to cut food stamp benefits for overspending last month - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

State to cut food stamp benefits for overspending last month

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BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) -

The state social services department is going to strip food stamp benefits from people who are found to have deliberately overspent their balance when the electronic food stamp service was down last month.

The Department of Children and Family Services announced Wednesday that it would seek to disqualify food stamp recipients through the state's administrative hearing process.

RELATED STORY: Retailers responsible for overcharges after EBT card glitch

Several Louisiana retailers, including Wal-Mart stores in Mansfield and Springhill, allowed food stamp recipients to make unlimited purchases on Oct. 12, when the electronic card system was down and balances couldn't be checked.

DCFS says about 12,000 insufficient funds were conducted when the system was down, though not all are assumed to be fraudulent.

The department's response comes after U.S. Sen. David Vitter complained that state officials weren't aggressively pursuing food stamp fraud.

RELATED STORY: Vitter: EBT card fraud in Louisiana should disqualify recipients

According to the Department of Children and Families website, the Unit will initially target the most egregious violators through the following administrative process:

Suspected violators will be mailed a letter stating DCFS' intent to pursue disqualification of the recipient. The letter will include a brief summary of the issue, the recipient's SNAP balance prior to the transaction(s), the actual transaction(s) that exceeded the available balance and a list of the retailer(s) where the transactions took place. The policies violated will also be identified in the letter.

The recipient will be informed that they can appeal this action within 90 days through an Administrative Disqualification Hearing. If a hearing is requested during that time, DCFS' Fraud and Recovery Unit will request that a hearing be scheduled through the Louisiana Division of Administrative Law. All hearings administered by the Division of Administrative Law are conducted by independent and impartial Administrative Law Judges.

Recipients also can waive their right to appeal by signing and returning a Waiver of Administrative Disqualification Hearing Form that will be included in the letter sent by DCFS. The Fraud and Recovery Unit will impose disqualification upon receipt of the waiver.

If the recipient fails to return the form waiving their right to an administrative hearing, DCFS will schedule an Administrative Disqualification Hearing for the recipient.

For more information on how the process will work, please visit the Department of Children and Families website by clicking here

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