How to Handle Benefit Overpayment in Virginia

A food stamps overpayment in Virginia occurs when the funds you receive from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) are too high. A SNAP overpayment often happens by accident after the Department of Social Services (DSS) makes an error or you inadvertently report incorrect information. However, the DSS categorizes some overpayments as intentional violations. “Do you have to pay back food stamps?” is a common question of overpaid beneficiaries. Regardless of the reason that you received too many benefits, it is almost always necessary to pay back the funds you obtained in error. Failing to reimburse the DSS results in a variety of consequences, some of which can affect your eligibility for food stamps in the future. Therefore, it is important to take action when you are notified of a benefit overpayment. Learn the repayment of food stamp overpayment procedures and find out what your obligations are after receiving too many benefits in the below topics.

Why do SNAP overpayments in Virginia occur?

A food stamp overpayment in VA can happen in three different ways. First, SNAP overpayments may result when the DSS makes an error. This is known as an Agency Error (AE) claim. Second, there are Inadvertent Household Error (IHE) claims, in which beneficiaries of the SNAP program accidentally provide incorrect information to the DSS. And third, a SNAP overpayment in Virginia can occur after a household knowingly withholds income or other information from the DSS. This is known as an Intentional Program Violation (IPV). The nature of a violation can determine what happens after the DSS makes a claim against a household. Learn more about the types of overpayments by downloading our guide on social services.

What to Do After a Food Stamp Overpayment in Virginia

In most cases, Virginia food stamp overpayments are caught by local Department of Health or DSS offices that issue benefits. However, SNAP participants may wonder who to notify of SNAP overpayment if they catch mistakes on themselves. After a beneficiary notices an error in the amount of benefits received, it is in his or her best interest to contact the local DSS office as soon as possible. Even when the DSS is responsible for an error, it is the SNAP participant’s responsibility to pay back the funds that were incorrectly issued.

If you have a food stamps overpayment in Virginia, then the DSS is required to send you a letter explaining the issue. SNAP overpayment notifications will inform you of your obligations to return any funds you received in error. You also have the option of requesting an appeal. If you dispute the nature of the claim or the amount of benefits the DSS wants you to return, then an appeal will initiate a review of your case. To learn how to dispute a food stamp overpayment in VA, download our public assistance guide.

Penalties for Virginia SNAP Overpayment Violations

An overpayment of food stamps benefits in Virginia should always be taken seriously. Participants wondering, “Do you have to pay back SNAP?” should be aware that payments are often necessary. Even if a beneficiary believes that he or she was entitled to all of the benefits issued, then contacting the DSS to resolve the issue is always required. Ignoring an overpayment notification can result in a reduction in the amount of SNAP benefits issued. Households that receive a SNAP overpayment after an IPV claim may also be prosecuted for not paying back the benefits. Being prosecuted can result in criminal charges in severe IPV cases. Furthermore, those who intentionally violate the rules for SNAP can be temporarily or permanently barred from the food stamps program in the future.

If you agree to repay a food stamp overpayment in Virginia and fail to maintain your payments, then there are also consequences. A food stamps repayment needs to be completed according to any agreement you made with the DSS. When you do not repay your benefits on schedule, the DSS may refer your case to collection agencies that garnish your wages, intercept your tax refunds or place liens against your property. These penalties can affect your life for months or years, so it is important to uphold your payment agreements.

Options for Repayment of SNAP Overpayments in Virginia

After a SNAP overpayment in Virginia, someone in your household will be responsible for repaying any required funds to the DSS. Food stamp repayments should be handled by household members who were adults at the time the claim was made. Your household sponsor may also be liable for making payments if he or she was at fault for the error. If you have an authorized food stamps representative, then he or she may be obligated to repay your benefits as well, provided this individual was responsible for the violation.

There are a variety of food stamps overpayment plans you can use when repaying benefits in Virginia. First, the DSS can address a SNAP overpayment by reducing the amount of food stamps you receive in future months, provided you are still participating in the program. Second, you can repay your benefits in a lump sum or an installment. Third, you can handle your repayment by fulfilling a public service obligation. This is only an option if you were granted permission by a judge to repay your benefits in this manner.

Virginia Department of Social Services