Oklahomans Receiving Letters for Food Stamp Debt
By Jennifer Pierce, NEWS 9
OKLAHOMA CITY -- An Oklahoma City woman was shocked after receiving a letter from the Oklahoma Department of Human Services stating she owed money.
Beverly Armstrong lost everything in a house fire more than 20 years ago. She turned to public assistance to provide for her family, but recently Armstrong received a letter stating that she owes nearly $900 in food stamp debt from more than 20 years ago. The agency said she was overpaid in food stamps.
"I don't know how they overpaid me. I had three kids at the time. I had no job," Armstrong said. "I'm wondering how many other people they are doing this to."
A DHS spokesperson said Armstrong was not the only person to receive the letter. The agency claimed to have sent letters on behalf of the federal government to over 8,000 people who were over-assisted. Like Armstrong's, some of the cases were from over 10 years ago.
"It is possible that during the calculation of eligibility that an error could take place, whether it is an error on the agencies part or an inadvertent error on the client's part. Regardless, if an error has taken place, it's our obligation to follow up and make sure it's corrected," said Mary Leaver, DHS Spokesperson.
Past and present clients can dispute the debt or make payment arrangements, but if nothing is done clients face stiff penalties.
"It's not going to be welcome news to any household to see a debt of that nature," Leaver said.
If you received a letter and have a question, contact DHS at 405-522-0933.