Over 3,500 lottery winners got welfare or lived with someone getting welfare in 2012, according to a Monday report from the Michigan Department of Human Services (DHS). Whoa. A whole lotta double-dipping is being exposed as a result of a new law that requires the DHS to cross-check the list of Michigan lottery winners against the public assistance rolls.
The new law was signed by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder a year ago as a result of multiple scandals about lottery winners getting caught with their hands in the welfare till.
For example, last July, 25-year-old Detroit area resident Amanda Clayton was sentenced to probation for taking $5,000 in aid — even though she won $735,000 in the state lottery. Neither the probation nor the money did her much good, and Clayton was found dead of a drug overdose in October.
Michigan’s DHS has passed the buck on lottery winner welfare fraud to the state legislature. According to DHS director Maura Corrigan, after they discovered the 3,544 cheaters, they could only shut down 565 of them because the winners were exploiting loopholes to continue to help themselves to benefits.
One loophole described in the Detroit News involved an unnamed man who allegedly won $125,000 — yet his two children living at home were still collecting $400 a month each in food stamps. According to the DHS, the man boldly claimed that he didn’t share meals with his children, and that rather preposterous story was apparently enough to keep the extra gravy rolling in.
The law checks for winners who took in $1,000 or more. The average cheater had won $6,800, according to Monday’s report.
DHS spokesman Dave Akerly told the Detroit Free Press that,”We think there’s too much gray area for someone who may hit the jackpot and doesn’t say to themselves that they’ve got this newfound money to live on and they should give up their benefits.”
They would like to see a new law passed which allows the state of Michigan to intercept lottery payments in order to make sure that taxpayers don’t pay welfare to lottery winners.
[cash photo by “2bgr8” via Wikipedia Commons]