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Archive for Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Food stamp fraud may be costing state $22M a year

A federal audit has discovered irregularities in the cases of 883 food stamp recipients, with recipients being dead, having invalid Social Security numbers or double-dipping from the program between August 2009 and August 2010.

A federal audit has discovered irregularities in the cases of 883 food stamp recipients, with recipients being dead, having invalid Social Security numbers or double-dipping from the program between August 2009 and August 2010.

November 30, 2011, 3:41 p.m. Updated December 1, 2011, 12:28 a.m.

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— State auditors trying to weed out food-stamp fraud believe more than 7,000 people in Kansas may be getting benefits to which they aren’t entitled and costing taxpayers as much as $22 million a year, the state’s top social services official said Wednesday.

Rob Siedlecki, director of the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services, blamed what he called lax enforcement under previous administrations that cut back on fraud investigators — an allegation quickly rejected by his predecessor, who said the department did what it could with limited resources.

Siedlecki said that he understands many people need assistance and that it’s his job to ensure qualified residents receive help. But he noted that every dollar wasted on fraud could have been given to someone who was eligible to receive it.

“We know people are hurting,” he said. “But if you want to game the system, we’re going to come after you.”

A state review of welfare programs conducted in October found 312 possibly dead recipients, 941 cases in which there was severe risk of identity fraud, 261 recipients believed to be incarcerated and 6,400 who had out-of-state driver’s licenses.

That number was far higher than the results of a recent audit by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which runs the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, previously known as the Food Stamp Program.

The USDA audit found that 883 beneficiaries were improperly receiving assistance between August 2009 and August 2010. They included people who were dead, had invalid Social Security numbers or were double-dipping from the federal program.

The USDA audit didn’t consider some factors included in the state’s review, such as prison inmates who may still be collecting assistance or individuals who had non-Kansas driver’s licenses. The latter accounted for the bulk of the state’s possible fraud cases.

“This report confirms what we already knew: that benefits fraud and mistakes exist in the SNAP program,” Siedlecki said.

One common way people are committing fraud is by selling their Vision cards, which are used in place of food stamps, for less than face value. That means program participants are getting cash while purchasers are getting benefits they don’t deserve.

Siedlecki said the state is developing the automated Kansas Eligibility Enforcement System, a $140 million project aimed at improving the state’s accuracy in determining eligibility for cash and food assistance, and medical benefits by cross-referencing state and federal data sources. He said the federal government is picking up the tab for most of the KEES system.

Siedlecki said that when he took over as SRS chief in January, there were only eight welfare fraud investigators statewide, including one investigator for all of the state’s 47 western counties, and no anti-fraud director.

“They gutted the office in half, had no director and no investigator in the state’s largest city, Wichita,” Siedlecki said of previous administrations. “Finding fraud wasn’t a priority.”

The secretary called welfare fraud “low-hanging fruit” that is easily detectable through examining program data. He said the total of welfare fraud in Kansas could go as high as $30 million once investigators start digging deeper.

Don Jordan, who was SRS secretary under Democratic governors Kathleen Sebelius and Mark Parkinson, said those administrations did not take welfare fraud lightly.

“During the time I was secretary, there were very tight resources,” Jordan said.

The department tried to ensure “eligible people got the amount of benefits they were eligible for. We didn’t put a higher or lower priority on any part of that job, including detecting fraud. The main way you do that is by determining eligibility up front,” he said.

Siedlecki said two weeks ago that his director of fraud investigation, Ken Thompson, was appointed by state Attorney General Derek Schmidt as a special assistant attorney general and would have prosecutorial authority. What that means, Siedlecki explained, is that his department could criminally prosecute people who commit welfare fraud in Kansas.

In the past, the most the state could do was pursue lawsuits. While civil judgments can be dismissed in bankruptcy court, he said, criminal restitution orders can’t.

Comments

hyperinflate 3 years ago

"The Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services says that number is only a fraction of the more than 7,000 beneficiaries an October examination found who may be improperly receiving assistance"

Yeah, and that "fraction" is a bit over 11% of participants. By that same spin logic, having 6,950 fraudulent recipients would still only be a fraction. Nice try Siedlecki. Simply put, you're not doing a very good job with the taxpayers' money. I guess that's not important to a northbound carpetbagger like you.

1southernjayhawk 3 years ago

Beat me to it consumer1. The guy has only been on the job for about 11 months and would think this kind of fraud is ingrained in the system, which needs to be overhauled, as opposed to suddenly occuring spontaneously during his watch.

somedude20 3 years ago

I am surprised that your message is still up after 5 minutes. Heck, the new dude will take mine down in less time without having written anything bad. Some one asked what happened to Hollis Brown so I told them the jist of the song (that he killed his wife,kid and self) and ole Pete took it right down.

kochmoney 3 years ago

Just because the number is only a fraction and a total guess, doesn't mean we can't spend nearly seven times as much as is allegedly lost on an automated system to catch them. That's totally worthwhile, right?

1southernjayhawk 3 years ago

Sounds like a lot of fraud to me...and that's what I would have expected. Of course, there is no way there would be that kind of voter fraud here in Kansas.

jafs 3 years ago

Really?

800 Kansans sounds like a lot?

What's the population of KS?

jaywalker 3 years ago

"The secretary called welfare fraud “low-hanging fruit” that is easily detectable through examining program data. He said the total of welfare fraud in Kansas could go as high as $30 million once investigators start digging deeper."

Wrong again, Gandalf. But then that's what's so right about you.

jaywalker 3 years ago

An honest man would have just admitted he was wrong and maybe even apologized. Good to know where you stand.

jaywalker 3 years ago

Yes, if he happens to be a liar then he's definitely a member of your flock.

jafs 3 years ago

A lot of could be's and maybe's in their statements.

I'll wait to see what they actually find.

Eileen Jones 3 years ago

Did you read the article? Not one fact in it.

"may" "believe" "as much as" - no facts at all. They should report when they have the facts. This is an attempt to poison people's minds.

asixbury 3 years ago

Fraud with foodstamps use is also an issue. I know many people personally who sell their foodstamps ($1 for $.50) to buy other items, mostly drugs. I have also heard those same people exclaim when they find out their girlfriend (can't get married or they loose benefits) is pregnant again, "Great, now I will get more money." In fact, every person I know that is young and on welfare are miss-using it. Every one. And I know a lot, since I grew up on Welfare. My mom was one of the very few who actually used it the way it was meant.

asixbury 3 years ago

All of these same people also do not even try to find work and become self-sufficient. If they do have a job, they make sure they do not work more then the maximum hours, or they will lose benefits. I have personally heard these requests when I worked as a manager at a retail store. They are not attempting to ever get off welfare. It is a free trip they plan to ride until they die. I am all for welfare, but there needs to be more checks and regulations to catch people abusing it.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years ago

They should go to Wall Street. Scamming the government is literally millions of times a lucrative.

beatrice 3 years ago

asixbury, how exactly do people sell their foodstamps these days? it is a credit card, not actual stamps.

If you actually know "many" people who personally sell their foodstamps, might I suggest a new circle of friends.

Or, since it is your money (and mine and ours) -- report them. Do the right thing and report the crimes that you know are happening.

asixbury 3 years ago

I know it is a card. They give your their card or go to the store with you. I will not report some of these people because they are relatives that I'm not neccessarily proud of. I did not say they were friends. I do not want the kids to suffer from their parent's decisions. The kids are provided for; the parents only usually sell what is leftover from the vast amount of assistance they receive each month. These same people also receive so much money for food that they eat much better then tax-paying, responsible citizens such as you and me. It's a crime how well they can live by doing absolutely nothing.

beatrice 3 years ago

Yes, it is a crime -- a crime involving drugs (as you claim) and defrauding taxpayers, and you are doing absolutely nothing about it but complaining. You should report it, especially if drugs are involved, since you yourself claim this to be true most of the time. Are you saying it is better that children -- also your relatives, I assume -- be left in a home with drug addicts, just because those addicts are your relatives?

I have known people on government assistance, too. I can assure you, they absolutely do not eat better than I.

asixbury 3 years ago

They eat better as in they can buy more expensive cuts of meat then I can cause I don't have as much money in my budget for it. The relatives of mine are not on drugs...they do sell their leftover vision card amounts to buy other items. The ones who I know of that do sell their's and turn around to buy drugs, I do not know them well enough to know their address or any other contact information. I know them in passing, or as high school acquaintances. If I go to the police, what do I tell them? I have absolutely no evidence to support my claims other than my word against theirs? How much of a waste of time is that? Also, everyone knows this abuse of assistance happens. Even the police; that's why the system is thinking about requiring drug tests for people receiving assistance. You are ignorant if you think there is anything I can do about it, or that the government does not already know.

gudpoynt 3 years ago

seriously asixbury -- are drug dealers now carrying card readers to process Vision card transactions? Does the transaction go through as "Crack" or simply "Miscellaneous"?

asixbury 3 years ago

They give you their card or go to the store...duh. It's not hard to get around something like that, since none of the stores ever check your ID.

Tara Painter 3 years ago

thats bull, I have been on food stamps for years, and have never abused, as I have three children, who need it, I'm not on welfare but I am young, and it's messed up how people like you think because your young or on welware that means your abusing it, it's all about actually checking the info there given and not just taking someones word for it.

somebodynew 3 years ago

I can save the State a lot of money. Fire Seidlacki ($$$ saved) and put Kolbach in charge of this. He seems to be able to find fraud where there is none, so finding it where it actually is should be easy for him. Since he has enough free time on his hand from his duties as SOS to work on other State's 'problems' he shouldn't need anymore money or time to do this job.

See, money saved from Sidekick and money save when Kolback prosecutes real fraud. Is that a win-win ??? Nah, we would still be stuck with Kolbach.

George_Braziller 3 years ago

Huh? If the 800 recipients are "dead" they obviously have "invalid Social Security numbers." How are they "double-dipping"?

The article was either poorly written or poorly edited. Next time I'm at the grocery store I'll be sure to keep my eye out for zombies shopping for some brains with their illegal food stamps.


"A federal audit has found more than 800 Kansas food stamp recipients who were dead, had invalid Social Security numbers or were double-dipping from the federal program between August 2009 and August 2010."

"The U.S. Department of Agriculture says it found 883 Kansas assistance recipients, including many who are dead, who were improperly receiving assistance during the audit period."

rockchalker52 3 years ago

zombies suck, don't give 'em anymore stamps.

DCJayhawk45 3 years ago

The way I read it was they're dead OR they're alive and using a dead person's social security number OR they're alive and double-dipping. It was clear to me that not all 800 were dead.

Talim 3 years ago

I think what they mean by invalid SSNs are people using fake SSNs like 123-45-6789 or 666-66-6666.

George_Braziller 3 years ago

I know what they meant. The story has been updated. Originally it just said that dead people were double-dipping.

gracecountry62 3 years ago

You got such a good heart NOT!!! Go ahead do just that and many children will go hungry , have you just awaken from a long nap as 4 yrs, we are in a rough economy at this point thanks to our wonderful president Mr . Obama.

beatrice 3 years ago

grace, I can actually see where sunny is coming from on this (much to my surprise). By enacting a renewal process in which people are "cut off" and they must "start over," it actually could cut down on instances of fraud. The issue is the fraud, not stopping those in real need from being fed.

Crazy_Larry 3 years ago

You blame the economy on Obama?!?! (stay calm, do not make derogatory statement)

BushCo cut taxes in 2001...cut taxes again in "2003 to create jobs", then came Medicare Part D (according to the GAO, this program alone created $8.4 trillion in unfunded obligations). Then BushCo lied the country into war with Iraq. BushCo advocated the Ownership society, premised on the concepts of individual accountability, smaller government, and the owning of property. This contributed to the sub-prime mortgage crisis, by encouraging home ownership for those unable to afford them and insufficient regulation of financial institutions.

During the BushCo years, income disparity grew. The under 18 poverty rate increased from 16.2% (2000) to 19% (2008). The economy grew due to the war and home equity extraction. Cash used by consumers from equity extraction doubled from $627 billion in 2001 to $1,428 billion in 2005 (as the housing bubble built) reaching a total of nearly $5 trillion dollars by the time the bubble burst.

The last year of BushCo's second term was dominated by an economic recession. When they left, the economy was in a tailspin...BushCo bailed Wall Street out to the tune of $700-billion. The Dow closed at 8281 when BushCo finished with the Presidency. And despite all the crap handed down to Obama from BushCo, today the Dow closed at 12019.

I'm sure I've left out something...But, it's all Obama's fault, isn't it? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N1Kvgt...

Tara Painter 3 years ago

Thank you, glad someone is listening as I've not been abusing my food stamps and I have three kids under seven to feed. Glad you have a heart gracecountry62 as it seems no one else does.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years ago

Multiply it by several million, and it starts to approach the fraud that can be found on Wall Street and in Washington.

gracecountry62 3 years ago

So true, Wall street junkies getting richer.

KS 3 years ago

bozo, two wrongs don't make a right! Fraud is fraud. Clean up as much as one can.

ivalueamerica 3 years ago

I am glad whenever fraud is caught.

However, there are some facts missing in the story.

Many of the deceased recipients foodstamps issued were never used. That means that there was no one to notify SRS.

Many of those who are called double dippers had no idea what they were doing was against the rules. Not all, but many.

Futher, not all invalid Social Security numbers mean fraud. There are any number of reasons a Social Security number might be invalid. It was written wrong, a computer error.

I am not saying the fraud is not higher than it should be, it clearly is...but it also looks like it is being pretty well addressed and the true fraud vs. the accidental fraud though fraud none-the-less is much lower than the 800.

TopJayhawk 3 years ago

I would bet a paycheck that the fraud is much higher.

I deal with it everyday.

mloburgio 3 years ago

Children's defense fund, children in kansas,

January 2011 704,951 children live in Kansas: 8,588 are American Indian/Alaska Native 17,759 are Asian/Pacific Islander 26,156 are two or more races 54,418 are Black 104,019 are Hispanic 503,900 are White, non-Hispanic In Kansas: A child is abused or neglected every 6 hours. A child dies before his or her first birthday every 1 day. A child or teen is killed by gunfire every 10 days. Kansas Ranks: 17th among states in percent of babies born at low birthweight. Best state is Alaska; worst state is Mississippi 27th among states in per pupil expenditures. Best state is New Jersey; worst state is Utah 40th among states in its infant mortality rate. Best state is Washington; worst is the District of Columbia [1st represents the best state for children and 51st represents the worst state for children in the country] Child Poverty in Kansas Number of poor children (and percent poor) 121,395(17.6%) Number of children living in extreme poverty (and percent in extreme poverty) 46,790(6.8%) Number of adults and children receiving cash assistance from Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) 37,771 Maximum monthly TANF cash assistance for a family of three $429 Child Health in Kansas Number of children without health insurance (and percent uninsured) 68,000 (9.2%) Number of children enrolled in the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)* 48,090 CHIP eligibility: 241 percent of federal poverty ($53,140 for a family of four) Number of children enrolled in Medicaid 208,695 Medicaid and CHIP participation rate 80.8% Children as a percent of total Medicaid enrollment 58.8% Medicaid expenditures on children as a percent of total Medicaid expenditures 26.6% Percent of two-year-olds not fully immunized 23.0%

mloburgio 3 years ago

Children's defense fund, children in kansas, Child Hunger in Kansas Number of children who receive food stamps 84,907 Percent of eligible persons who receive food stamps 57% Number of children in the School Lunch Program (free and reduced price only) 166,121 Number of children in the Summer Food Service Program 17,225 Number of women and children receiving WIC (Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children) 73,238 Early Childhood Development in Kansas Percent of children under age 6 with all parents in the labor force 68.5% Number of children served by Head Start 11,703 Number of children served by the Child Care Development Fund/CCDBG 20,900 Average annual cost of child care for a four-year-old in a center $6,526 Percent of 3-year-olds enrolled in state pre-k, Head Start, or special education programs 12.5% Percent of 4-year-olds enrolled in state pre-k, Head Start, or special education programs 37.1% Education in Kansas Annual expenditure per prisoner $26,430 Annual expenditure per public school pupil $8,640 Percent of public school fourth graders: unable to read at grade level 65% unable to do math at grade level 54% Percent of public school eighth graders: unable to read at grade level 67% unable to do math at grade level 61% Number of high school students who drop out of school annually 8,305 Child Welfare in Kansas Number of children who are victims of abuse and neglect 1,363 Number of children in foster care 5,691 Number of children adopted from foster care 836 Number of grandparents raising grandchildren 19,530 Youth at Risk in Kansas Percent of 16- to 19-year-olds not enrolled in school who are not high school graduates 5.1% Averaged freshman high school graduation rate 79.1% Percent of 16- to 19-year-olds unemployed 18.8% Number of juvenile arrests 9,585 Number of children and teens in juvenile residential facilities 1,146 Ratio of cost per prisoner to cost per public school pupil 3.1 Number of children and teens killed by firearms: 36 19 homicides; 17 suicides; 0 accidents; and 0 undetermined

http://www.childrensdefense.org/child-research-data-publications/data/state-data-repository/cits/2011/children-in-the-states-2011-kansas.pdf

KS 3 years ago

Gandalf - I see you are up and doing your usual attacks.. Did you get up on the wrong side of the bed?

Crazy_Larry 3 years ago

"Reality has a well-known liberal bias." - Colbert

Orwell 3 years ago

Don't you get it? Spending $140 million in federal money to address a very speculative $22 million in improper benefits is a fine thing. Spending $32 million in federal money to help people get health care is irresponsible, socialistic, big-government waste.

hy·poc·ri·sy (hiˈpäkrisē), noun:

The practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one's own behavior does not conform; pretense.

jhawkinsf 3 years ago

Within every category of crime, from murder to jaywalking, there will be a certain amount of crime that goes both unreported and undetected. There is no reason to believe that fraud in food stamps is the one exception. What the real number is we can speculate about, just as we can speculate what the costs of fraud in other areas costs us. But what is almost certainly true is that the 22 million dollars mentioned here is just the tip of the iceberg.

WHY 3 years ago

It is actually far more likely that the actual number is far less. They are extrapolating the data from the number of dead, out of state licenses, and people in prison, ect... It is just as likely that the paperwork error is the other way and that some of those people are not dead, moved and could not drive for any number of reasons, or have been released from prison and the records not updated properly. Until a real investigation is completed and convictions obtained (probably less than a dozen) we will not know the real extent of the abuse.

jhawkinsf 3 years ago

Common sense tells me you're wrong. You state that until convictions happen, and then suggest the problem would be less than a dozen. That just can't be correct. In jest, I mentioned jaywalking. I suspect that there have been zero convictions in this state in the past year. Does it logically follow that there has been zero actual acts of jaywalking? Of course, I have no idea exactly how many acts of jaywalking have actually happened. But common sense tells me it's more than zero. And it's more than one, two or three.
This forum is not a court of law. It is not necessary to have convictions before certain conclusions are reached. No one here has the power to deprive anyone of their rights to life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness. Therefore, they are not entitled to a presumption of innocence in this forum. In this forum, I'm perfectly free to conclude that my common sense trumps your need for convictions.

jafs 3 years ago

You can conclude whatever you want, but you're just making it up.

The article itself uses terms like "may be" and "could be" up to $22-$30 million - your conclusion that those figures are just the "tip of the iceberg" is based on nothing at all.

It's equally possible that there's less than that much fraud occurring.

jhawkinsf 3 years ago

Right. I've mentioned in the past that I worked in social services many years ago. The amount of waste and fraud I witnessed was very high. And that which was reported was the tip of the iceberg in comparison to what I observed. Maybe things have changed in the several decades since. Maybe. My guess is not. Hence I framed my comments in terms of my common sense. You're free to agree with me or not. I never said it was the absolute truth. But saying it was "based on nothing at all" is wrong.

jafs 3 years ago

Ok.

"Waste" and "fraud" are two different things.

And, it was a long time ago, by your own posts.

Was it in KS, by the way?

jhawkinsf 3 years ago

Not in Kansas. But I doubt if human nature has changed that much in the past several years nor do I think human nature is that much different here as it is in other states.

jafs 3 years ago

Different states have different kinds of social service systems, and it's by no means self-evident that one system is going to have the same levels of fraud than another one.

verity 3 years ago

I was a social worker many years ago in a different state. My experience was that the waste and the fraud that I knew about was mostly in the administration, so that's what my "common sense" tells me.

But---my experience with what people call common sense is that it doesn't necessarily have anything to do with reality.

By all means, try to eliminate fraud, but this admin seems to excel in throwing out the baby with the bath water.

jayhawkinsf 3 years ago

Perhaps we worked side by side. I too saw fraud in administration. While at a private not for profit I witnessed administrators flat out lying to funders, just trying to keep the money coming in. I saw co-workers assist clients file what they had to know was fraudulent claims for public assistance. And I saw administrators hiring family members, I saw all sorts of sordid happenings. It happened in the White House under, well, probably everyone, and I'm certain it happens all the time on Wall Street. Now the White House and Wall Street happenings are things I did not witness, just heard about, you might say "common sense" or "common knowledge".
As to this administration in Topeka, I've said before, Brownback is a twit. That doesn't diminish the fact that there is fraud in the system. And from my experience, more fraud than what is reported.

Crazy_Larry 3 years ago

Saw the same stuff going on when I was in the military. Gotta protect the budget, ya know. Don't want to get cut, so spend every dime. That was one of the reasons I didn't reup a second time... Military/defense spending is largely why America is going bankrupt.

The Cold War was used for decades to justify increased spending. When that ended we found a new enemy to justify and expand the spending. The War On Terrorism won't go away as easily as our Cold War did. The expansion of budgets will continue. The MICC wins again.

Fact: you're more likely to die from a lightening strike than a terrorist strike.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=B3no5h9u8Ko

jhawkinsf 3 years ago

I've stated many times I'm neither Democrat or Republican, so I could care less what political party is claimed by the people committing the fraud. I'm just stating that it's happening, in my opinion it's happening way too much, and I hope we can make it stop.
But just to play devil's advocate here, you're characterization of all the people committing fraud as "Kansans" might be so overly broad as to lead you to the wrong conclusion. If the fraud was committed in counties that have high concentrations of Democrats, then the opposite conclusion might be reached. If certain ethnic or religious groups, or groups with other specific identities that also identify more heavily as Democrats, then again, you might be reaching the wrong conclusion. More information would be needed to reach the conclusion you postulate. Again, I could care less. I know it's (the fraud) out there, I suspect it's out there in greater amounts than what's been detected, and I hope it stops.

jhawkinsf 3 years ago

People have this nasty habit of acting in ways that serve their own self interest. Terrible, isn't it? People who are applying for welfare, food stamps, section 8 housing, unemployment have an incentive to not be totally honest. Whether that's not reporting income, not honestly saying who's living in the home, etc. There are many ways to fudge the truth and then collect some benefit we might be entitled to. It happens all the time. It's human nature. I'm not at all suggesting that it's only happening at the lower end of the economic scale. Just the opposite. It probably happens at all levels of our socioeconomic scale. And it's all wrong. Once you say that it's O.K. for one group to do it, then you lose the moral justification for saying it's wrong for other groups to do it. If it's O.K. to steal a dollar, then it's O.K. to steal a million. If it's wrong to steal a million, then it's wrong to steal a dollar.

jafs 3 years ago

That's a pretty absolute stance there.

What about the starving person who steals to feed themselves or their children vs. the millionaire who steals to get another million?

jayhawkinsf 3 years ago

If a person is starving and they steal to feed themselves and their children then they don't live in the United States of America. With the abundance of food banks, public and private assistance programs, etc., the only way a person might be starving is if their plane crashed on a mountaintop. And I think we all know that's not what we're taking about here. BTW, Jafs, while you're spending time dissecting comments made about the poor, I wonder how you feel about the blanket statements made about fraud on Wall Street or by the rich. I specifically stated both are wrong. Do I detect some sort of feeling from you that it's O.K. for poor people to steal but if the rich do it it's to be condemned? When someone argues against one and remains silent as to the other, they give that impression.

jafs 3 years ago

I just think that "stealing is wrong" is too much of a blanket statement for me.

There are different circumstances, and different situations that warrant different views.

And yes, in general, I find theft by rich people, who are living quite well, to be more objectionable than theft by poor people, who are living at a rather subsistence level.

It's much more understandable to me that those at the bottom want to live a little better than that those at the top always want more.

DCJayhawk45 3 years ago

Not necessarily. If nobody thinks to report the death to the appropriate program, the program continues sending benefits. Doesn't necessarily mean relatives are using them. It's entirely possible that letters to addressee are being trashed without being opened, or the deceased's residence was sold/rented out and nobody is checking the mail before they trash it.

If SNAP works anything like SSI/SSDI, the program doesn't check up on you every month to see whether you're dead, alive, or still eligible. There are annual reviews, but SSI/SSDI still sends you the checks anyway even if you don't mail back the review. Someone could be dead for two years before Social Security even gets a clue. And the system is so complicated that I'm sure there are relatives that don't understand how it works, or assume that Social Security will automatically know about the death and terminate benefits.

What I would want to know is how much of those benefits that go to deceased persons are actually being used by persons other than the beneficiary. That right there is your answer, not an assumption that 100% of benefits being sent to the deceased are being stolen and used. Most are probably falling through the gaping cracks in the system.

William Weissbeck 3 years ago

While fraud is fraud, keep the figures in perspective. If it is $22 million and 7,000 recipients, that translates to $3,200 each or $60 week. No one is getting rich or fat. Some steal bread because they are hungry. Some steal because they are greedy. Clinton's welfare "reforms" made it illegal for someone convicted of certain drug felonies to receive food stamps. How many of the 7,000 might be in this "fair" category?

Blessed4x 3 years ago

I have noticed that since the food stamp program went to the VISION cards, there is no longer any stigma attached to it and no incentive to get off the program. Food stamps are for the most "in-need" people in our society. Work them like the WIC program and limit what can be purchased with the money to good, wholesome food. I routinely see people purchasing junk food with their cards and most times, name brands. I'm raising a family of 6 on a single income. We don't have a name brand item in our home unless someone else brought it. I'm all for helping those that need help, but the way programs like this are administered, there is simply no desire instilled in these people to ever get off the program.

Katara 3 years ago

Name brands, you say?!?

Quick, brand a large letter "P" into their forehead so we can all shame them for having less than others.

kochmoney 3 years ago

I thought the use of "these people" was a nice touch. I've never seen anyone use a Vision card, ever. But then I don't snoop around at other people's shopping carts in the checkout line.

KCMO_Jayhawk 3 years ago

So mean to tell me there is a direct correlation between food stamps and obesity??!! Unbelieveable! So that leads me to think what is wrong with my significant other... we are not on food stamps and he could be considered obese. Could you chime in and tell me what's the problem?? Is it because we both work and can afford to buy an abundance of food???? Hmmmm... I'll be interested in hearing your response!

As for the Papa Murphys incident you claim to have experienced. You assume these people are sucking off the government for 50 * dollars of pizza at Papa Murphys??? When I go there I spend a good 30 dollars on two specialty pizzas and an individual salad. So if they had five kids (or snot nose kids as you called them) and still had to feed both the parents $50 for 7 aint so bad in my eyes!

Again, worry about your self and what you are eating. And if you don't like snot nosed kids then do your part to make sure your child is never trotting about with snot running from his/her nose! Furthermore, are you sure your child has NEVER had a snotting nose and touched everything like all the other young kids in the world?!

Ridiculous!

KCMO_Jayhawk 3 years ago

You people??? Who are these people you refer to???

So I get it... I need to exercise, understand that it is okay to tell people how to control their children, I have anger issues, and I'm stupid! Thanks! You just proved my point!!

For the record, I hold three degrees, I've worked in the SW industry for many years from SRS, to a Juvenile probation officer, to public health (probaly have saved your family from a disease outbreak once or twice in my life). My significant other is well aware of exercise as he was a KU Football player, but he chooses to eat more than he exercises (right to choose). I'm well aware of exercise as I box and train for boxing on a daily basis. Also, if Papa Murphys only has the salads available that are out for people to touch maybe you should request the one that they can make fresh, per your request!

You see the problem is not that you can't reason with stupid, it is that ignorance and disrespect are at an all time HIGH! You are correct everyone is entitled to have a different opinion, just like your opinion of me being stupid and angry because I took a difference with your opinion! Pot calling the kettle black, huh??

Tara Painter 3 years ago

you know nothing and need to shut your mouth! I have been getting food stamps for seven years now, and it does not pay for all your food needs, and I don't go getting high cost items, plus not that you need to know, but I could not work and pay daycare for three kids and still feed my kids as I have tryed this, and actually lost more money then I was making which is the case for a lot of low income families. You try working for less then eight dollars a hour and pay 1200 dollars for daycare and pay normal cost of living as well as food. If you haven't been there then you should keep your mouth shut. Don't judge us based on one or two people who abuse it, and FYI may children are actually under weight, your weight don't always mean what you eat, you know nothing do you

chootspa 3 years ago

So we're going to spend $140 million in order to save "up to" $22 million? Is that the best use of our tax dollars, Sidekicky?

KCMO_Jayhawk 3 years ago

These were my exact thoughts! What money is actually being saved??!

KCMO_Jayhawk 3 years ago

No one can tell anyone what they can or can not purchase at a store!! If they want to pay the extra to have name brand items, well then so be it! Some of you people are ridiculous! Think of it this way... if they purchase name brand items or papa murphy's pizza with their benefits than their benefits will not go very far. On the other hand, if they purchase off brand their benefits MAY go further. WHO REALLY CARES?? They can not go to the SRS office and request more money because they spent all of their funds at Papa Murphys. All they can do is wait until next month!

As for purchasing junk food, did the thought ever occur to you all that junk food is CHEAPER! Think about it! Ramen noodles cost 15 cents while a small box of whole grain, all natural pasta can run about $2.00. If I were in need I would be buying the Ramen, cart loads of them to be exact. Same with the juice to soda cost ratio. Blame the corporations making the * and selling the * for so cheap!

Maybe they are purchasing steaks because they are having a special treat, meal. Maybe this is the only way they can celebrate a birthday or special occasion because the only consistent incoming funds are food stamps!

Grow up! Worry about what is in your own * basket and who is obese in your own * family! Simply ridiculous!

ksarmychick 3 years ago

If they are buying food with food stamps they should be told what they can and can't buy. Everyone knows that eating junk food causes other health problems, and there is a good chance that if a person is on food stamps they or thier children are also on the state medical plan. Buying junk food is not cheeper. Ramen noodles may cost 15 cents a package, but how many people does that feed? The package says 2 servings but I know people that eat 2 packages at a time. I can buy a box of pasta at walmart for 88 cents and it serves 8. I can buy a can of spaghetti sauce also for 88 cents that also serves 8. A loaf of bread for less then $1 and a frozen pack of vegetable for under $1. So for under $4 I can feed an entire family of 8 an entire dinner. So that's less then 50 cents a serving including vegetables. Likewise I could buy a box of knock of brand cheerios, a gallon of milk and 4 lbs of bananas for under $8 and it would be around 16 servings. Again about 50 cents a serving. I could also make 15 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for under $4 total. Or a batch of split pea and carrot soup that feeds 16 for under $3. I could also buy a dozen eggs, package of cheese, tomatoes, and bread and make egg sandwiches for under $7 and feed 12 people lunch. When you have to make sacrafices you FIND a way.
My problem with people buying that "special treat" is that I don't get that special treat because I have to actually feed my family on a budget. I haven't eaten a steak in the last 5 years, I haven't ordered pizza in over 3 years. I totally have a problem with those recieving gov't assistance eating better then me, who actually pays for their own food with money I earn.

chootspa 3 years ago

Good for you for maintaining the illusion that you're buying healthy food, but those boxed pasta carbs and canned fatty spaghetti sauce calories are definitely cheaper than buying lean meats and fresh fruits and veggies, aren't they?

I totally have a problem with the downtrodden kicking other downtrodden.

ksarmychick 3 years ago

Those were example of food that costs about the same as ramen but is better for you.
If you must know no one in my household is overweight. I also make my own spaghetti sauce with olive oil with tomatoes, onions, and zuchinni grown from my own garden...but I am sure if I posted that as the example I would be informed that those on foodstamps don't have a garden. But just so you know the nutrition info on a jar of store bought sauce only contains 2.5 grams of fat, 10 g of carbs, and 2 g of protein per 1/2 cup serving. So I don't really see where 2.5 grams of fat equates to fatty spaghetti sauce calories. And every other example every item with the exception of the jelly could be bought with a WIC voucher.

chootspa 3 years ago

The ramen can be cooked in the workplace microwave. It's really much easier to make choices for other people isn't, it?

I never accused you of being obese, for the record. Plenty of people eating a diet mainly consisting of ramen, potato soup, pbjs, etc would still be perfectly fit. It just sets the stage for obesity and diabetes those with a disposition toward food-related illnesses.

I'd love it if food stamps came with cooking and nutrition classes, but they don't. They don't even come with consumer math courses. They do, however, come with a big loss of dignity and a heaping helping of condescension.

I don't resent people who get food stamps. I'm sorry you do.

KCMO_Jayhawk 3 years ago

So what employee will follow each of these families around the store to ensure they are buying what has been identified as healthy for them?? Let's not forget about freedoms, rights, and liberties!

ksarmychick 3 years ago

Nobody needs to follow anyone around the store...it's called a barcode. If you go to pay with a vision card the items on the purchase that don't qualify are automatically detected by the register(like toilet paper). And when a person would use the vision card to pay it would leave a total of items that aren't accepted to be paid for and would leave a balance that the customer would then be responsible for paying for themselves. The stores would be able to program the registers to accept only approved food items that qualify as healthly to be paid for by the vision card. Just like if you get the wrong item and try to buy it with a WIC check the register automatically tells the cashier that this item doesn't qualify and you have to send the customer to get the correct item.

KCMO_Jayhawk 3 years ago

News flash! The coding is not in the barcode when you are shopping with a vision card. It is in the item classification. I.E. Toilet paper is not a food item, therefore it is not classified as so! And again, who sets the regulation on what is healthy?? You think pasta is healthy. Well guess what, I have friends who think otherwise.

My point is this... For this to work there needs to be a simplified way to distinguish healthy from non healthy. What if a child in your family has an allergy to a food that is on the healthy list?? Guess what, that food is no longer healthy for that child. So do we create a system that allows the SRS case worker to program the card to allow the purchase of other "specified" healthy items.

I do not disagree with you that people should eat healthy and buy healthy. However, I just do not see how the standard can be monitored. Futhermore, I do not like the idea of telling someone that just because they are on food stamps they lose their right to choose what they want to eat. Am I better than them because I buy my own food?? And since I do I get to have the right to choose?? That just doesn't sit well for me.

ksarmychick 3 years ago

Let me guess you must be against WIC too. Since it tells you what items can and cannot be purchased. If you can have one gov't entitlement program that tells you what you can buy and what foods qualify and even the amounts and brand you are allowed to buy, you could very well do a food stamps overhaul that follows the same guidelines. And as far as a child having an allergy to one food on the list-you would use common sense and purchase another food item on the approved list.

jafs 3 years ago

The argument is that those on public assistance are having their food, and also most likely medical care paid for by taxpayers.

As such, we have a vested interest in how they spend it, especially if their choices wind up costing us more money in the form of health care.

Not to mention some basic concern that folks (especially children) are eating healthfully and well.

I'm sure you know that obesity in this country is rising at an alarming rate, even among children, and that this results in a variety of preventable health issues, like type 2 diabetes.

coderob 3 years ago

Deciding what's healthy is really difficult and political. Don't forget that congress just decided that pizza is a vegetable.

kochmoney 3 years ago

Not a joke. They decided it was too hard to ask schools to give kids a balanced meal and now count the tomato sauce as veggie servings.

Beth Bird 3 years ago

If I can not afford steaks while I work over 40+ hours a week and my husband works over 50+ hours a week and my money goes to these people - they should not get steak either. It is a bunch of crap. They are most likely getting free health care as well if they are getting food stamps. Therefore, their crappy eating results in more money being spent on doctors, ect. If they want assistance, they can purchase the cheapest brand of an item and it needs to be on an approved food list.

To your point that their money will not go as far and that being their deal - that is fine BUT if they could only buy certain brands and foods, we wouldn't need to give them as much money. Therefore, our cost would be lower.

coderob 3 years ago

6,400 of the 7,000 people identified were listed because they had had out of state driver's licenses. Is it really a surprise that poor people have out of state driver's licenses? Can you seriously put neglecting to update your driver's license in the same camp as fraud?

I bet a fair share are following work, and have no idea how long they'll be in the state for, or have trouble getting off work during the day to make it to the DMV. Granted, anyone who has time to apply for food stamps should also be able to apply for a new driver's license, but the $20 or so it costs for a new one probably isn't worth it for someone living paycheck to paycheck. Add to that the fact that poverty often accompanies a lack of a high school degree, and you can really start to understand the barrier. It seems pretty reasonable that someone without much education would avoid going to the DMV.

That most of the fraud cases were based on out of state licenses really blows this article out of proportion.

chootspa 3 years ago

When I renewed my license, I saw people who were on their second or third trip to the DMV to change their driver's licence residency. I gather it's not such an easy process.

asixbury 3 years ago

You don't actually have to change your physical license, ever. You just have to submit the change on the state DMV website. I found this out the last time I moved. As long as it's up-to-date in the system, they don't care what your card says. I received this info directly from the state DMV.

coderob 3 years ago

But remember, there is a difference between changing your address on your card within the state and getting a new license from a different state.

asixbury 3 years ago

That is true. I meant within the same state. Good point.

Cait McKnelly 3 years ago

Just out of curiosity, how do people "sell" their foodstamps now that it's all on the equivalent of a debit card? Also, basing this on 6400 people who had "out of state driver's licenses" is pure BS spin. When people apply for food stamps they have to provide rental receipts, utility statements, etc to prove current residence. All that a DL does is prove ID and having an out of state ID doesn't deny one benefits. Get real.

Cait McKnelly 3 years ago

Once again, Rob Siedlecki proves what an ignorant tool he is.

asixbury 3 years ago

They let you borrow the card or go to the store with you. It's not hard to get around it; the stores never ask for ID's when using the cards.

grammaddy 3 years ago

It makes me crazy to see food stamps being spent on junk food. I know a single mom who feeds her kids candy every day. She also has a state-issued medical card and uses it quite frequently for the dentist.Not only is the state providing her with food money that is spent irresponsibly,we the taxpayers are also paying for the damage being done to those children's teeth.And she had the nerve to get angry when there was talk of banning soda and other sugary drinks from the food stamp program.Some folks just don't get it.

Eileen Jones 3 years ago

Proving that it is not enough to just solve one problem. You have to solve multiple problems.

And people criticize Michelle Obama for trying to educate the country on nutrition and exercise!

Cait McKnelly 3 years ago

Oh and by the way, the food stamp program is a federally funded program. What does this mean? It means it's portable from state to state. There are no residency requirements for actually receiving the benefits. The only reason residency information is taken is to determine that the Kansas office is actually within it's rights to be servicing the case and to make sure that no other state is already servicing the client. The program itself doesn't cost the Kansas taxpayer a dime, beyond the cost of servicing the case through SRS. You could have come here from Alaska and only been here three days and still qualify for food stamps.

Cait McKnelly 3 years ago

Oh and another thing... "...beyond the cost of servicing the case through SRS..." The Feds actually reimburse the state for this cost, so in actuality, it doesn't cost the state taxpayer a dime. Once more, let me reiterate, once again, Rob Siedlecki proves what an ignorant tool he is.

chootspa 3 years ago

He's not ignorant at all. He's quite deliberately stirring up FUD about programs that benefit the destitute, so we forget all about the corporate welfare and tax breaks his rich buddies get. It's a page right out of the "Cadillac welfare queen" playbook.

jlzack 3 years ago

and just where do you think the fed's get the money from? you got it, OUR tax dollars

Cait McKnelly 3 years ago

So you think that spending 140 million dollars of state money to save what is, at best, 22 million dollars (a figure that's been way over inflated) is just hunky dory? Who do you work for? The Texas contractor that BB is shoveling our money at so fast it's like a bathtub drain?

coderob 3 years ago

Read cait48's explanation on food stamp portability.

Also, your solution is just another hoop for poor people to jump through. Having people continuously and needlessly prove their qualifications for the program undermines its effectiveness. Imagine being poor and uneducated and having to take off work, and ride the bus across town to prove you qualify for the program. You may drop out and leave your kids malnourished just so you can keep your job. A lot of people in this program are on a thin line between productive society and homelessness. Start making things more difficult, and just wait and see how much harder it is to help someone who is homeless.

asixbury 3 years ago

Why is it not fair? You should have to have some sort of government ID. If you can't get a government ID, then maybe something's up with you...or not.

coderob 3 years ago

It reminds me of a saying I heard about the advertising industry.

"They say half of all advertising money is wasted. The problem is that nobody knows which half."

Jayhawk1958 3 years ago

I'd raher see fraud on a social program like foodstamps then GE not paying any income tax last year.

Cait McKnelly 3 years ago

Notice that the USDA audit did not include the "out of state DL violation". This is because, to the USDA, it's not a violation. The USDA audit only found around 1000 cases that they questioned. In a program where the recipients number in the hundreds of thousands this is actually not a bad rate, about .3%. (http://www.ksfarmersmarkets.org/resources/faq-food-assistancesnapfood-stamp-program?v=producers In May of 2011 300,000 people, one in ten Kansans, was receiving food stamp assistance.) The reason Rob Siedlecki is pushing this is because of this little gem buried in the article.

"Siedlecki said the state is developing the automated Kansas Eligibility Enforcement System, a $140 million project..."

Whereas food stamp funding comes from the Feds and not directly out of Kansans pockets, this does. Siedlecki is justifying the shuttling of millions of dollars in state money to BB's chosen recipients. It's not just a crock of bovine fecal matter, it's fraud at the state house level.

Sunny Parker 3 years ago

Anyone that believes 'food stamps' are a great way to give to the community can donate to the cause! Taxpayers should not be forced to support these low lifes living off our tax dollars! If you cannot afford to feed your children, stop having them!

asixbury 3 years ago

Although I don't totally agree with everything you said, I do agree people need to stop having kids they can't support. A former acquaintance from high school, his wife had her 5th kid. The government finally stepped in and sterilized her, literally. They gave her the choice: pay for this delivery yourself, or get sterilized. You can bet which one she chose. Her and her husband have NEVER worked. Ever. They don't even try to find jobs. The system does help many people that are truly in need of its services, and don't take advantage of it. But there are probably (I'm just guessing) just as many that do take full advantage. It definitely needs reformed. The stigma that used to be attached (which I'm not necessarily saying is a good thing) isn't there anymore. There's no motivation to get off the program. The ones who are truly hurt by all this are the children. Talk about a catch-22.

jafs 3 years ago

I find it completely unbelievable that our government gave somebody a choice of paying for their own child's delivery or being sterilized.

As far as I know, the government doesn't have that kind of power.

Any sources you'd like to cite to back up that claim?

verity 3 years ago

I'm with Jafs on this one. If it happened, I'm pretty sure someone overstepped the law.

asixbury 3 years ago

Yeah, the woman herself. I was told by her she had to be sterilized, and we saw the actual report mandating it. It happened to my step-mother's sister as well for the same reason. My mom said the government would have done the same to her on her 5th child, but she got off welfare before she had my sister.

ResQd 3 years ago

I guess I don't understand why they just don't have pictures put on the ID cards? That would cost the state less money than all of the fraud. If they submit their card to a grocery store and it's not their pic, don't accept it.

asixbury 3 years ago

Unless the stores ask for ID's for all card users, vision card or not, that woud not help. The vision cards are used the same as debit cards. No one knows it's a vision card when the people use it.

coderob 3 years ago

I wouldn't rely on enforcement at the store level. Cashiers make close to minimum wage, and are easily corruptible. Lots of people under 21 probably know of a clerk who let's them buy alcohol. Putting enforcement responsibilities on cashiers only brings them that much closer to the illegality of the act.

The real problem is poverty. Someone who is poor is bound to bend or break the regulations around the program simply because they need money.

Some people advocate for just giving poor people money and allowing them to spend it as they please. It's a tough pill to swallow, but at least as a policy directly deals with the problem instead of focusing on side issues.

Jimo 3 years ago

Trillions of dollars down the rabbit hole from systemic fraud on Wall Street and not a single person sent to jail. Legalized bribery of elected officials with no consequence. A former Speaker of the House perverting his fame to lobby his future fellow-lobbyists for any buck waived in front of his nose. Thousands of veterans having their homes illegally stolen from them by banksters.

Yet plenty of effort to find a few million.

Wasn't there a case in Mississippi just last month of some single mother who illegally (prior drug conviction, ineligible under state law) collected $4k in food stamps to feed her children, which she paid back, only to be sent to prison for 3 years at taxpayer expense at God knows what cost?

But hey, since resources are limitless, there's no point in setting priorities!

pace 3 years ago

The best way to reduce food stamp abuse is lower the number of people eligible for food stamps. The GOP job plan sucks. what trickles down from fat portfolios is despair. We need jobs, the country doesn't want food stamps, they want jobs. They need to do something, not just doing the same crude which is not working. Real fraud is at the congressional and senate level. JOBS, HOMES, Jobs. jobs.

justlearning 3 years ago

SRS and private contractors... if you think a Big Brother government is scary - a Public/Private Big Brother is a Frankenstein. Emma's tweet was just the tip of the iceberg... Lots of dots to connect, but here's a start... LexisNexis - private contractors who came up with 7000 number (not state auditors) Who else uses LexisNexis? Florida Governor Scott Walker. http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9072919/FTC_settles_with_TJX_LexisNexis http://www.local10.com/news/Florida-Makes-63M-Selling-Drivers-Info/-/1717324/3078462/-/5juh04z/-/index.html Parent company of LexisNexis bought Choicepoint (a London based company) http://www.bizjournals.com/atlanta/stories/2008/02/18/daily30.html $135 million contract between SRS & Accenture for Medicaid eligibilty system (A Texas company)

Cait McKnelly 3 years ago

12/1. It's early, I'm still on my first cup of coffee and I'm dyslexic.

Cait McKnelly 3 years ago

Somebody woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning. Have a cup of coffee and settle down.

Centerville 3 years ago

Food is going to get a lot more expensive unless John Corzine can 'find' the money that he just stole from our farmers and ranchers.

pace 3 years ago

I wonder how much our corporate welfare is costing us? I bet between the tax cuts, loop holes and just plain chicanery, it is over 200 million. i don't see an outside audit of that coming soon.

Eileen Jones 3 years ago

"believe" "may" "as much as"

What kind of journalism is this? Who put the newspaper up to this story?

How about reporting when you have some FACTS, Journal-World! and not before.

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