RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The federal government has penalized the Virginia Department of Social Services more than $3.8 million over food assistance payment errors.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports the average rate of payment error nationwide for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program was 6.5% in 2018. A report given Tuesday to a General Assembly subcommittee says Virginia's payment error rate last year was 9.6%. Mistakes worth more than $37 contribute to the rate.

Department of Social Services Commissioner Duke Storen says the agency struggles with high turnover and employment vacancies, contributing to the number of errors.

Virginia will be able to enter into a settlement agreement with the federal government allowing it to use half of the penalty to reinvest into the program.

Storen says the agency is researching ways to decrease its error rate.

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Information from: Richmond Times-Dispatch, http://www.richmond.com

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