WASHINGTON (AP) _ Thousands of people are still getting food stamps after they die, and Sen. Dick Lugar hopes to put a stop to it.

The Senate Agriculture Committee chairman plans to introduce legislation Tuesday that would help state agencies that administer the federal food stamp program find out when recipients die.

A General Accounting Office study being released Tuesday by the Indiana Republican found 26,000 cases of deceased individuals 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 people.

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. State agencies are able now to verify recipients' Social Security numbers, but information about whether they are dead is not available, Cutshall said.