More than 1,100 welfare dead in Massachusetts cost the state millions, an auditor says, and the accusation has prompted complaints about the efficiency of social services in the state.
The welfare dead in Massachusetts were located via a state audit, one that found 1,164 people receiving benefits that were either deceased or instances of living individuals using the social security number of a dead person to obtain benefits.
According to Boston.com, the welfare dead received “food stamps, cash, and other benefits to low-income families” to the tune of millions — at least $2 million in the past years, and possibly more than $18 million when counting “suspicious” transactions located in the accounting.
State Auditor Suzanne Bump said that of the $1.7 billion spent on social programs in the state each year, the bulk of welfare money went to families in need — but that the issue of abuse and waste is one that concerns auditors because it is very difficult to discover, and sometimes the signs seem obvious:
“It pains all of us in the auditor’s office to think that the programs’s integrity is not being maintained … The most frustrating finding is that we were able to identify so many patterns of activity that could have raised suspicions, but did not.”
The audit finding the welfare dead spanned three separate forms of assistance in Massachusetts — Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (also known as food stamps), Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children, and Emergency Aid to Elderly, Disabled and Children.
Bump said of EBT benefits:
“Clearly there has not been sufficient priority placed on preventing fraud in that agency … Fraud prevention has to be a major focus of any government benefit program. It clearly was not a major focus … The tools were available. They were not used. That was a disservice to the program, that was a disservice to the taxpayers.”
Even outside the welfare dead, tallying all the suspicious payments amounts to less than two percent of the state’s welfare spending.