15+ Welfare Fraud Statistics - 2022 Update (2022)

Less than 50% of American adults trust the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and many believe most users abuse it. The latest welfare fraud statistics, however, show that the payment accuracy of SNAP is over 92%, while the food stamp trafficking rate in the past few years has been only 1-1.5%. These figures show that the US authorities have found efficient solutions to food stamp fraud.

Would you like to discover the social assistance program fraud rates at home and abroad? Are you interested in which US states note the most considerable welfare fraud rate? Can you guess how much money the federal and state authorities save by fighting SNAP abuse? Discover these and many other curious stats on welfare exploitation.

Welfare Fraud Statistics (Editor’s Choice)

  • Most developed countries have welfare fraud and error rates between 1-5%.
  • In 2012, SNAP payment inaccuracy was under 4%.
  • In the past decade, the amount of improper and fraudulent SNAP payments dropped by $3.67 billion.
  • The average SNAP fraud amount per ADH disqualification is about $2,000.
  • American authorities have collected about $1.6 billion in delinquent and fraudulent SNAP claims since 1992.
  • Georgia recorded the highest amount of $7,155,867 in claims collected.

Global Welfare Fraud Facts and Stats

1. Australia prosecuted over 3,000 people for welfare fraud between 2008 and 2009.

In the period between 2008 and 2009, Centrelink, Australia’s welfare fraud investigator, completed 3,867,135 reviews and cancelled or reduced payments in 641,504 cases. Centrelink also prosecuted 3,388 individuals for welfare fraud, nearly all of which (3,354) were convicted. There were a total of 26,084 fraud-related investigations,and the nation’s statistics on welfare abuse show that the debt and savings involved in them was AU$113,400,000 million.

(AIC)

2. In 2003, fraud and errors represented about 3-5% of Canada’s welfare payments.

Before reaching such a low rate of welfare fraud and error, the country invested in a unique program. Back in 1994, Canada introduced the Group Information Sessions project, which informed clients on welfare programs. There’s been 225,000 sessions held and 1.7 million people educated ever since. The program is believed to have saved Canada about CA$800 million in benefit funds.

(NAO)

3. Total welfare overpayments due to fraud and error in the UK reached 2.4% in 2019/20.

UK welfare abuse statistics indicate that 1.4% of that amount was associated with fraud. The monetary value of all overpayments was £4.6 billion. The percentage of welfare fraud and error payments in universal credit was 9.4, and housing benefit followed with 6%. Pension credit and carer’s allowance accounted for a similar overpayment rate, at 5.3% and 5.2%, respectively. Employment and support allowance followed at 4%, while the lowest welfare fraud percentage of 1.5 was noted in personal independence payments.

(NAO)

4. France has among the highest benefit fraud penalties among the developed countries.

One of the government assistance abuse statistics is that benefit fraud will cost you a 3-year prison sentence and a €45,000 fine in France. Still, the French welfare fraud investigator estimates that there are between 2,000 and 3,000 benefit fraud incidents in the country per year. In 2002, there were only 300 convictions out of 700 cases of suspected welfare fraud.

(NAO)

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5. The Netherlands saved over €220 million in 3 years with its unique strategy on fighting welfare abuse.

In 2003, the country introduced the ‘Slimmer, Breder, Meer Handhaven’ strategy. Estimates showed that it saved the Netherlands nearly €220 million between 2003 and 2006.

Still, benefits fraud exists in the country, and people abusing welfare aren’t that uncommon. In 2004, the abuse of welfare system statistics revealed that 22% of participants would accept a job without notifying authorities. About 11% of welfare abusers would work on the black market. Moreover, 25% admitted to not applying for a position on purpose. An additional 12% ensured they wouldn’t get a job to keep receiving unemployment benefits, which is another one of the welfare abuse examples in the Netherlands.

(NAO)

US Statistics on Welfare Fraud

6. Payment errors, including fraud, are significantly lower than in 2000.

In 2011, the rate of all SNAP payment errors was about 50% lower than the rate recorded ten years ago. Over that period, the size of improper SNAP payments and fraud was decreased by an impressive $3.67 billion. Welfare facts and statistics show that the main reason for this positive change was the stricter certifying and investigation rules. Both prevent giving benefits to ineligible individuals and help detect fraudulent activities such as selling food stamps.

(USDA)

7. Over 8,300 retail stores have been permanently removed from SNAP due to trafficking.

Trafficking has become the number one enemy of SNAP. The USDA has therefore adopted a zero-tolerance policy for such food-stamp abuse, according to SNAP abuse statistics. Trafficking used to represent about 4% of all SNAP payments but has been reduced to about 1%. In 2012 alone, investigators conducted about 4,500 undercover investigations and reviewed more than 15,000 participating stores. More than 8,300 stores were disqualified from SNAP due to food stamps trafficking.

(USDA)

8. In 2016, the authorities collected claims worth over $400 million.

One year before, the total claims collected totaled $366.6 million, or 9.69% less than the $402 million recorded in 2016, as evidenced by welfare abuse facts. The largest share ($166 million) from these claims came via the Treasury Offset Program. The remaining $155.3 million and $80.6 million came from claims collected via recoupment and other collection methods.

(FNS)

9. The average amount of SNAP fraud per ADH disqualification is about $2,000.

In 2016, the average amount of fraud per disqualification from Administrative Disqualification Hearings (ADH) in the US was $2,143. There were a total of 46,953 disqualifications from ADH (waivers and convictions) that year. The total associated SNAP program loss was stunning $100,641,327, according to statistics on food stamp abuse.

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(FNS)

10. Fraud represents only 10.72% of all SNAP claims.

In 2016, the total food stamps claims totaled $684,197,891. Fraud claims, however, contributed only $73,403,758 towards that amount, or 10.72%. The highest share of $421,934,288 of recipient claim dollars saved came from household error claims. Finally, agency error claims were responsible for the remaining $188,859,846, as suggested by food stamp abuse statistics.

(FNS)

11. Fewer than half of American adults trust the SNAP program.

About 47% of adults in the US think that food stamps are beneficial, according to a YouGov food stamp abuse study. More than half, however, don’t trust the program and worry about fraud. Even a lower share of Americans (40%) trust in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. Medicare, Social Security, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program note the highest trust rates of 57%, 55%, and 52%, respectively.

Facts about welfare abuse show that SNAP fraud rate misinformation and the myth of the ‘welfare queen’ are the main reasons why most Americans distrust the program. Still, SNAP abuse is the least likely to happen. The program has rigorous application and review processes alongside multi-level eligibility checks. Only about 14 in every 10,000 US households enrolled in SNAP commit fraud.

(YouGov)

Food Stamp Fraud Statistics by State

12. New York and California are the states with the most SNAP fraud investigations.

In 2016, a total of 450,976 investigations were completed in California. This accounts for nearly half of all investigations (963,965) completed that year in the US. Most of those (296,989) were positive pre-certification investigations. With a total of 156,858 inquiries completed, New York came in second on the list.

Food stamp abuse facts show that the other states with a notable number of completed investigations didn’t even come close to these figures. For example, the states after New York were District of Columbia (43,290), Michigan (40,716), and West Virginia (37,559).

(FNS)

13. New Mexico recorded only 40 completed SNAP fraud investigations in 2016.

There weren’t any negative or positive pre-certification inquiries in the state. According to stats on welfare abuse, New Mexico had only 13 and 27 negative and positive post-certification investigations. Other states that deserve a mention in this category are Guam (267), Maine (294), North Dakota (350), and South Carolina (344). It’s also interesting to note that Arkansas recorded zero negative and positive post-certification inquiries in 2016. However, those figures were under review by the state authorities.

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(FNS)

14. Massachusetts had the highest average fraud amount per SNAP disqualification from ADH.

The state’s average SNAP amount of fraud was stunning $14,526. The only other state that came near this figure was New Mexico with an average of $12,743 per disqualification. All the other states had significantly lower average fraud amounts in 2016, as suggested by welfare abuse stats. For most of them, the average was between $1,000-3,000. Many of the states, including Missouri, Alaska, and North Dakota, had an average fraud loss per disqualification under $1,000.

(FNS)

15. Most SNAP disqualifications from prosecution happened in California.

In 2016, there were 2,123 cases against people abusing welfare in the state, and the average fraud amount per disqualification was $3,033. California was also the state with the highest associated program loss of $6,439,059. It’s interesting to note, however, that other states had a much higher average fraud amount per case. SNAP fraud statistics reveal the lleaders in this category were Maryland ($69,873), Washington ($50,505), and New Hampshire ($49,905).

(FNS)

Frequently Asked Questions

How is welfare fraud detected?

Authorities first try to verify the citizenship and income of people suspected of welfare fraud. They work closely with state and federal agencies to collect all the necessary information. Reports show that more than 50% of states use Equifax services to get relevant and up-to-date data on welfare users.

Welfare fraud statistics and facts show that authorities often match the person’s against bank records to discover any hidden income or wages. In case they suspect a person is selling food stamps, they also check Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) records. These reveal suspicious activities like high-dollar amounts, even-dollar amounts, and out-of-state purchases. Only 1-1.5% of SNAP benefits are established as a fraud. Most food stamp abuse stories in the US are either SNAP trafficking or hiding incomes.

How long does food stamp investigation take?

Food stamp abuse facts reveal that every investigation length depends on multiple factors. Authorities first open and review the case and then complete interviews. The number of other ongoing investigations also affects the total investigation length. So, a food stamp investigation can take weeks, months, or even years.

What happens after you report welfare fraud?

The authorities receive your complaint and then send out a report to open an investigation. The welfare fraud investigator then opens and completes an investigation based on your allegations. Final conclusions and results are sent to the appropriate Welfare Office. If necessary, they are also sent to a prosecutor.

People who report frauds can choose to provide their personal information or stay anonymous. In any case, investigation status and report can never be disclosed. So, the person who reported the fraud shouldn’t hope for any updates.

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When filing a complaint, you must provide welfare abuse examples and proof, if any. Also, it’s mandatory to give the details of the person your complaint is about.

What does a welfare fraud investigator do?

They first check all state and federal records to collect relevant information about the person under investigation. They also investigate bank records and credit score reports. If necessary, they perform EBT checks too. Welfare fraud investigators also interview anyone they deem essential for the investigation.

Is welfare fraud a federal offense?

Both state and federal authorities can start an investigation on welfare fraud. Welfare fraud charges often come alongside charges of larceny, theft, forgery, and perjury. So, depending on the case severity as well as what agency conducts the investigation, welfare fraud may end up a federal issue.

What happens if you commit welfare fraud?

If the authorities conclude that you have committed welfare fraud, you must pay back any overpaid benefits. You may also receive a sentence. This can be community service, a penalty, probation, and even incarceration. Most likely, you will be temporarily or permanently banned from receiving public assistance benefits.

For SNAP, the first offense earns users a 12-month disqualification from the program. The second offense results in a 24-month disqualification, while the third one gets consumers a permanent ban.

These fines and qualification periods may vary depending on the place of residence of the offender. Also, the penalties for retailers are different from those applicable to individuals — stores that commit fraud are liable to $10,000 in fines and/or an up to 5-year prison sentence.

How long can you stay on food stamps?

Americans with dependents under 18 or over 50 have no limit to how long they can receive SNAP. Single and healthy adults without any dependents are eligible for 3-month SNAP support within 36 months. There are some exceptions to this rule, depending on your living situation.

For example, residents of several destinations like Bois Forte, White Earth Reservations, and Red Lake can get SNAP longer. Also, those who participate in an approved employment program or receive cash assistance can get food stamps for more than three months. Pregnant Americans are eligible for longer support as well.

How much of my taxes goes to food stamps?

Only 6% of federal tax dollars go toward food stamps, child care, energy assistance, and other income security programs. The average SNAP contribution per American taxpayer is about $326. Unemployment and labor programs, in contrast, cost the average taxpayer about $1,010 a year.

Summary

All these welfare fraud statistics reveal that the general opinion on food stamps abuse is misguided. Even though welfare fraud and food stamps trafficking exist, their extent isn’t as broad as believed. Meaning, most SNAP funds reach Americans that genuinely need them, rather than being misused by welfare abusers.

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References: AIC, NAO, NAO, SNAP To Health, USDA, FAS, FNS, YouGov

FAQs

Which states have the highest number of welfare recipients? ›

The ten states that have the highest number of SNAP recipients are: California (3,789,000), Texas (3,406,000), Florida (2,847,000), New York (2,661,000), Illinois (1,770,000), Pennsylvania (1,757,000), Georgia (1,424,000), Ohio (1,383,000), North Carolina (1,298,000), and Michigan (1,180,000).

How many people are on welfare in the United States? ›

The number of people on welfare in the US is 59 million. There are 6 major welfare programs in the US. Four out of ten people in the US have been part of a welfare program for over 3 years. Nearly 50% of Americans believe government spending on social security needs to be increased.

Is welfare fraud a felony in California? ›

When filing a fraudulent application for welfare benefits is charged as a felony in this state, a conviction is punishable by up to three years behind bars and/or a fine of up to $5,000.

Who uses most welfare statistics? ›

The majority of SNAP recipients, 38.6% to be precise, are Caucasian. African Americans are the second biggest group, accounting for 24.8% of the recipients, followed by Hispanics who make up 11.5%. Asian Americans account for 2.9% of food stamp recipients, while Native Americans account for 1.2%.

What race is on food stamps the most? ›

SNAP recipients represent different races and/or ethnicities. White: about 37 percent; African American: 26 percent; Hispanic: 16 percent; Asian: 3 percent; and Native American: about 2 percent.

Which state has the most generous welfare? ›

Public Welfare State Expenditures Per Capita in 2018
RankStateFIPS Code
1Alaska02000
2Massachusetts25000
3New York36000
4Rhode Island44000
46 more rows

What race is the poorest in the United States? ›

Poverty and race/ethnicity

As of 2010 about half of those living in poverty are non-Hispanic white (19.6 million). Non-Hispanic white children comprised 57% of all poor rural children.

What state is the poorest in the US? ›

Poverty rates were highest in the states of Mississippi (19.58%), Louisiana (18.65%), New Mexico (18.55%), West Virginia (17.10%), Kentucky (16.61%), and Arkansas (16.08%), and they were lowest in the states of New Hampshire (7.42%), Maryland (9.02%), Utah (9.13%), Hawaii (9.26%), and Minnesota (9.33%).

What city has the most welfare recipients? ›

Neediest Cities in America
Overall Rank*CityTotal Score
1Detroit, MI63.79
2Brownsville, TX57.11
3Cleveland, OH57.02
4Fresno, CA56.51
79 more rows
Dec 20, 2021

What happens if you get caught by social welfare? ›

A criminal prosecution is on the cards if the Department believes you made a fraudulent claim, and if found guilty you could face three years in prison or a large fine.

Is there a statute of limitations on welfare fraud in California? ›

Under California's Penal Code Section 803(c), the statute of limitations for any of these crimes is four years from the date of discovery by the victim or law enforcement. There is no separate statute of limitations in California for insurance fraud, welfare fraud or any of the fraud offenses.

What happens after I talk with the food stamp investigator in California? ›

If you are asking what happens after I talk with the food stamp investigator, the answer is they are going to follow up with you and ask to provide more information and will ask to provide documents. They will continue working the case until they build enough of a case to take to court and secure a criminal conviction.

What percentage of US citizens are on welfare? ›

21.3 Percent of U.S. Population Participates in Government Assistance Programs Each Month. Approximately 52.2 million (or 21.3 percent) people in the U.S. participated in major means-tested government assistance programs each month in 2012, according to a U.S. Census Bureau report released today.

Has welfare increased or decreased? ›

The number of Americans receiving financial help through the nation's welfare system ebbed last year, even as economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic gripped the nation.

What percentage of Americans are black? ›

What percent of US is white? ›

Overall, 235.4 million people reported White alone or in combination with another group. The White alone population accounted for 204.3 million people and 61.6% of all people living in the United States, compared with 223.6 million and 72.4% in 2010.

What does SNAP stand for? ›

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

What is the best state to live in if you're poor? ›

New Hampshire

New Hampshire is among the best states to be poor in America. Ironically, though, there are relatively few people to take advantage of the situation: The state has the lowest poverty rate and third-lowest unemployment rate.

Where is the best place to live in poverty? ›

Top 50 cities. For next 50 go here.
Poverty RankingCityPopulation
Ranking
1San Juan41
2Detroit18
3St. Louis58
50 more rows

What state is the easiest to get welfare? ›

The Top Ten States for Low-Income Individuals & Families
  • Vermont. ...
  • Rhode Island. ...
  • New York. ...
  • Michigan. ...
  • Illinois. ...
  • Massachusetts. ...
  • Minnesota. ...
  • Nevada.

Can poor people still be happy? ›

People at the lower end of the income scale take more pleasure in their relationships and enjoy caring for and connecting with others, according to a study published Monday in the journal Emotion.

How many live on less than $1 a day? ›

Currently, 1 billion people worldwide live on less than one dollar a day, the threshold defined by the international community as constituting extreme poverty.

Which group is most likely to live in poverty? ›

In 2019, the share of Blacks in poverty was 1.8 times greater than their share among the general population. Blacks represented 13.2% of the total population in the United States, but 23.8% of the poverty population. The share of Hispanics in poverty was 1.5 times more than their share in the general population.

What is America's richest state? ›

These Are the 10 Richest States in the U.S.
  • Maryland. John GreimGetty Images. ...
  • Massachusetts. Boston GlobeGetty Images. ...
  • New Jersey. John MooreGetty Images. ...
  • Hawaii. Mark BosterGetty Images. ...
  • California. George RoseGetty Images. ...
  • Connecticut. Brooks KraftGetty Images. ...
  • Washington. Dan Callister/Getty Images. ...
  • New Hampshire.
Feb 18, 2022

What are the 5 poorest states in the USA? ›

These states and territories have the highest percentages of poverty in the country: Mississippi, Louisiana, New Mexico, Kentucky, Arkansas, West Virginia, Alabama, the District of Columbia, South Carolina, and Georgia.

What is the poorest zip code in the United States? ›

1. 15929: East Wheatfield, Pa. The poorest zip code in the United States is tiny East Wheatfield, east of Pittsburgh, and on the Backlick Creek. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates it has about 70 residents.

Can social welfare check your bank account? ›

The Social Welfare does not access your bank account unless you give permission. A Social Welfare Inspector may interview you about your income and may ask you for supporting documents, such as bank statements or accounts. This may involve a visit to your home.

Can social welfare bring you to court? ›

If you do not repay social welfare overpayments, the Department of Social Protection may take a civil case against you through the courts system.

Can social welfare search your house? ›

He said: “A social welfare inspector can show up at a person's house, thoroughly unannounced. There's a huge wealth of anecdotal evidence that social welfare inspectors will come in and rummage through a person's house and go through their wardrobes. “The vast majority of lone parent households are led by females.

Can CalFresh check your bank account? ›

Your Department of Social Services or food stamp issuing office may request current bank statements as part of the application process. The Federal Government requires verification of citizenship, income, Social Security numbers and other qualifying information.

Can felons get food stamps in California? ›

Visit your local office or call the California SNAP hotline to learn more: 1-877-847-3663. Can I get CalFresh food benefits (food stamps) if I have a drug felony conviction? Yes. If you're eligible for food stamps, California won't disqualify you because of a drug felony.

How much does welfare pay in California? ›

The maximum allotment for one person is $122 per month. The maximum allotment for a four-person family is $408 per month. In California the average amount of benefits per person is approximately $70 per month. The average amount of benefits per household is approximately $189 per month.

How do I know if my food stamps were approved online? ›

What's the Status of My Application? If you submitted an online application, you can Check Your Status online. If you mailed your application or supporting documentation contact the SNAP Retailer Service Center at 1-877-823-4369 to find out the status of your application.

Does CalFresh check IRS? ›

The CalFresh office commonly checks information from government and state agencies as well. Some notable federal agencies include the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Can you lie on CalFresh? ›

4.1. The different offenses of Welfare and Institutions Code 10980, California's welfare fraud law. If you are convicted of making a false or misleading statement in an effort to obtain benefits, you face a misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail and a maximum $500 fine.

What state has the least amount of welfare? ›

Massachusetts, New York, Alaska and Oregon are among the 10 states with the highest cost of living, and they are also among the biggest welfare spenders. Meanwhile, Georgia is one of the 10 states with the lowest cost of living, and it's also the state with the lowest welfare spending.

What states don't have welfare? ›

Since 2011, eight states have raised benefits in nominal terms (Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, and Utah), while four states have cut them (Delaware, Michigan, South Dakota, and Washington).

Does welfare fix poverty? ›

Welfare does not reduce poverty; it may actually increase it. The Census Bureau determines the poverty status of a family by comparing the family's pre-tax cash income with a poverty threshold that depends on family size and composition.

What is the largest race in the world? ›

The world's largest ethnic group is Han Chinese, with Mandarin being the world's most spoken language in terms of native speakers.

What city has the highest Black population? ›

New York city had the largest number of people reporting as Black with about 2.3 million, followed by Chicago, 1.1 million, and Detroit, Philadelphia and Houston, which had between 500,000 and 1 million each.

Where do most black people live? ›

Texas has the largest Black population with over 3.9 million. State by state, the highest number of Black Americans could be found in Texas (3.96 million), Florida (3.70 million), Georgia (3.54 million), New York (3.53 million), and California (2.83 million).

What city has the most welfare recipients? ›

Neediest Cities in America
Overall Rank*CityTotal Score
1Detroit, MI63.79
2Brownsville, TX57.11
3Cleveland, OH57.02
4Fresno, CA56.51
79 more rows
Dec 20, 2021

Which states are most dependent on the federal government? ›

States Most Dependent on the Federal Government
RankStateFederal Share of State Revenue
1West Virginia45.16%
2New Mexico41.80%
3Mississippi47.31%
4Alabama41.20%
6 more rows
Apr 20, 2022

What state has best welfare benefits? ›

The Top Ten States for Low-Income Individuals & Families
  • Vermont. ...
  • Rhode Island. ...
  • New York. ...
  • Michigan. ...
  • Illinois. ...
  • Massachusetts. ...
  • Minnesota. ...
  • Nevada.

What states don't have welfare? ›

Since 2011, eight states have raised benefits in nominal terms (Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, and Utah), while four states have cut them (Delaware, Michigan, South Dakota, and Washington).

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