Lottery Winner Loses Food Stamp Benefits
A Michigan woman who won a $1-million state lottery jackpot has learned there is such a thing as too much good luck.
Michigan’s Department of Human Services has cut off the woman's $200 dollars a month in food aid, after it learned she won the state lottery last September. She kept getting her monthly benefits, which is why DHS has taken away her Michigan Bridge EBT card and turned her case over to state law enforcement for possible fraud charges.
The 24 year old mother of two never bothered to tell DHS she won the lottery. Instead, she used her sudden wealth to buy a new home, a new car and a lot of new clothes.
This is the second food stamps embarrassment of this kind in two years at Michigan DHS. Last year a man who won $2 million in the lottery in 2010 kept getting food stamp benefits until last spring.
Michigan state officials say bureaucratic snafus like this are possible because DHS and the state lottery don't speak to each other. There's no internal communication, but that will change soon. A bill pending in the Michigan legislature would require the Lottery to notify DHS of lottery winners.
The bill's sponsor says “State assistance, our tax dollars, is meant to go to those who are truly in need. It's not meant to go to those who won big in the lottery.”
A DHS spokeswoman says the agency "relies on clients being forthcoming about their actual financial status. If they are not, and continue to accept benefits, they may face criminal investigation and be required to pay back those benefits.”
It's a fact that food stamps and food benefit cards feed millions of people who otherwise would go hungry. Food benefit fraud is actually very rare in the greater scheme of things.
That's why it's wrong and sad when an entire program is condemned because of a few dishonest cheats who use it and abuse it.