Sen. Dick Lugar, R-Ind., is introducing legislation to help state officials find out when food stamp recipients die so they can be taken off the rolls.

A General Accounting Office study being released Tuesday by the Senate Agriculture Committee chairman found 26,000 cases of deceased people being reported on the food stamp rolls over the past two years in four states, said committee spokeswoman Jennifer Cutshall.The GAO, the investigative arm of Congress, studied California, Florida, Texas and New York, and estimated that $8.5 million would have been spent on food stamps for the dead.

Lugar asked the GAO to report on groups of ineligible people receiving food stamps. Last year it reported on prisoners receiving food stamps, and legislation was passed to prevent that. The new study is a follow-up, Cutshall said.

Lugar's legislation would expand the Social Security Administration's authority to share its death records with state food stamp agencies, so they will be able to find out when a food stamp recipient dies.