|DATE:||June 2, 2017|
|SUBJECT:||Clarification on the three ways initial SNAP application processing timeliness is measured|
|TO:||All Regional Directors
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
The memorandum that follows is intended to clarify the three ways in which the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) measures timeliness of initial Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) application processing. This memorandum does not represent new policy, but seeks to clarify the three existing data collection and monitoring procedures. These procedures are: the Application Processing Timeliness (APT) rate calculated from the Quality Control (QC) active case sample, the state timeliness rate calculated from the universe of state data, and the Certification Section of the FNS Program and Budget Summary Statement, Part B-Program Activity Statement (FNS-366B). In addition to these measures, FNS also regularly monitors state timeliness though management evaluation reviews, advocate and client complaints, and other modes of information gathering.
The Food and Nutrition Act of 2008, as amended (the Act), entitles all eligible households to benefits within 30 days of application, or within 7 days, if they are eligible for expedited service. Although state agencies process the majority of SNAP applications within these timeframes, the data collection processes outlined in this memorandum allow FNS to identify and monitor states that struggle to consistently process applications timely.
Each method offers both strengths and challenges. In practice, FNS has found that these methods complement each other and, when taken together, provide a more complete picture of timeliness in a state. The three data collection methods are described below.
FNS Application Processing Timeliness Rate
The FNS APT rate derived from cases in the QC sample was originally designed to identify states eligible for high performance bonuses. The same information is also used to identify states with poor timeliness. The FNS APT rate is one of the sources of timeliness data cited in the timeliness escalation procedures published in the Guidance for Improving State Timeliness Rates and Standardizing the Escalation Procedures on March 16, 2016.
FNS calculates a 95 percent confidence interval surrounding the FNS APT rate point estimate. The upper bound of the confidence interval, rather than the point estimate, is used to identify and monitor poor timeliness. If the upper bound of the confidence interval is below 90 percent, the state agency is required to take corrective action.
State Timeliness Data Protocol
The state APT rate is calculated by dividing the number of initial SNAP applications approved timely within the 7- or 30-day processing requirement, according to the APT Protocol by the total number of applications approved within the same timeframe, and multiplying by 100.
FNS Program and Budget Summary Statement, Part B-Program Activity Statement (FNS-366B)
For the purposes of the FNS-366B, an initial regular application is overdue if the approval determination is made more than 30 days from the date of application, regardless of the reason for the delay. Initial expedited applications are overdue if an approval determination is made more than 7 days from the date of application.
On Jan. 11, 2017, FNS released a memorandum, Clarifications for Reporting on the Certification Section of the FNS-366B. The memorandum provides more information about FNS’s definition of the term “overdue” for FNS-366B purposes and includes a discussion of the differences between “overdue” on the FNS-366B and “untimely” in QC reviews.
Program Development Division
The contents of this guidance document do not have the force and effect of law and are not meant to bind the public in any way. This document is intended only to provide clarity to the public regarding existing requirements under the law or agency policies.