Implementing the Telephone Interview to Reduce SNAP Client and Administrative Burdens
This best practices resource was originally published by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC). FRAC is a national nonprofit organization working to eradicate poverty-related hunger and undernutrition in the United States.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) offers nutrition assistance to millions of eligible, low-income individuals and families and provides economic benefits to communities. SNAP is the largest program in the domestic hunger safety net.
The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) works with state agencies, nutrition educators, and neighborhood and faith-based organizations to ensure that those eligible for nutrition assistance can make informed decisions about applying for the program and can access benefits. FNS also works with state partners and the retail community to improve program administration and ensure program integrity.
Minimizing barriers to SNAP benefits delivery
Phone interviews result in less red tape for clients and state agencies, which means SNAP applications are processed more efficiently, but without adverse impact on SNAP payment accuracy rates.
According to a U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) study, SNAP officials and community partners found that phone interviews are particularly helpful for older people and working families because they:
- Reduce transportation hassles
- Eliminate barriers for applicants who cannot get to an office due to child care, work responsibilities or mobility issues
- Remove the stigma of visiting a public assistance office
Agencies also benefit because they can:
- Reduce administrative costs
- Decrease traffic flow in offices, which frees up staff to cover extended service hours and call centers
- Interview more applicants, and with fewer schedule disruptions caused by no-shows
By cutting down on the number of no-shows, states can improve their record of acting on new and recertified applications in a timely manner under federal rules.