Incompetence, indifference leave St. ...

Incompetence, indifference leave St. Paul couple snarled in sta...

There are 176 comments on the TwinCities.com story from May 30, 2009, titled Incompetence, indifference leave St. Paul couple snarled in sta.... In it, TwinCities.com reports that:

Linda Powis and Don Gunnon pose amid the mayhem of moving their St. Paul household to South Carolina on Monday morning March 23 2009.

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Since: Jun 09

Saint Paul, MN

#173 Jun 4, 2009
Integillentz wrote:
<quoted text>
yes there is - i have seen it from the inside, and I have seen it on the street and in people's homes.
there are many able-bodied people out there benefiting from public assistance that they do not truly need. who knows the percentage - i personally think it is very high 75%+, but i admit that i could be way off there, but the fact is that even if it is "only" 10% of the people we are losing tons of money.
Even if we were able to recover every dollar that was issued to people who committed fraud and/or weren't eligible for the benefits they received, the cost of collecting that money would very likely exceed what was recovered.

Looking at it another way - corporate fraud harms our economy far, far more than welfare fraud ever could; yet, I seldom see angry e-mobs of people foaming at the mouth for a chance to have at the wealthy criminals.

I have worked in Human Services for 8+ years, and I seldom see a case where I believe that fraud is truly involved.

Oh, and the most rampant fraud & opportunity for abuse isn't the single mother collecting MFIP. It is the elderly nursing home patient hiding or sheltering assets while Medicaid is picking up the $4000/mo tab for his/her care.
drew15

Mayer, MN

#174 Jun 4, 2009
tlj1067 wrote:
<quoted text>

Looking at it another way - corporate fraud harms our economy far, far more than welfare fraud ever could; yet, I seldom see angry e-mobs of people foaming at the mouth for a chance to have at the wealthy criminals.
Let's see, there is a criminal court system. If these things are so horrible why don't people or their representatives take action? Gee, what section of government or the populace is failing? Government never fails or is unfair...right?

Since: Jun 09

Saint Paul, MN

#175 Jun 4, 2009
drew15 wrote:
<quoted text>
Let's see, there is a criminal court system. If these things are so horrible why don't people or their representatives take action? Gee, what section of government or the populace is failing? Government never fails or is unfair...right?
I didn't say any of that. What I said was that, in practical terms of cost containment, spending a lot of time/effort/resources to go after the very few actual cases of welfare fraud just doesn't make a lot of sense. I suggested that it would cost more in terms of administrative overhead to aggressively pursue fraud -- not to mention, successfully recoup the money, once the fraud has been identified.

I also suggested that corporate welfare fraud costs society far more in terms of economic impact -- look at what is happening to us right now. Our economy has tanked, due in large part to the housing market collapse and the rampant fraud committed by the loan & banking industries.

Finally, I shared my opinion about where most welfare fraud takes place -- in an area that very few people actually think of (for some reason, they're always thinking of Ronald Reagan's fictional cadillac-driving, fur-coat wearing welfare mama). We don't like to think of sweet grandma and grandpa (or their adult children) hiding or failing to disclose assets so that their children can inherit something, all while the state foots their nursing home bills.
Louie53

Saint Paul, MN

#176 Jun 4, 2009
tlj1067 wrote:
<quoted text>
Louie, I work for the Ramsey County Dept of Human Services. I feel a lot of empathy for what this couple went through, although from my perspective, I do not believe that it was due to incompetence or indifference. There are rude and lazy workers in every job, but from what I see, it is the exception. We are working with ever-increasing caseloads while being told that we must do more with less resources. I'm not complaining; just stating factually that when errors are made or clients drop through the cracks, it is probably more due to confusing policy issues and an overburdened system. That said, if you ever feel that you've been treated unfairly, you have many options. You can contact your worker's supervisor, a program manager, your county commissioner. You can also request an appeal, which will be heard by an impartial judge who is well-versed on policy issues (and most of them are very client-service oriented). Sad but true: Persisent clients get heard.
Sorry, I didn't mean to sound sarcastic. I realize most of you work very hard. I am not on assistance, but have seen and know of people who have abused the system. Is there anywhere we can report these people to?

“At least I admit I'm a fool.”

Since: May 09

Madeuppington, Fakeasota

#177 Jun 4, 2009
tlj1067 wrote:
<quoted text>
Even if we were able to recover every dollar that was issued to people who committed fraud and/or weren't eligible for the benefits they received, the cost of collecting that money would very likely exceed what was recovered.

***

I have worked in Human Services for 8+ years, and I seldom see a case where I believe that fraud is truly involved.
I am suggesting that the system be reformed so that they money is not sent to the wrong people in the first place.

***

May I ask, are you a fiscal conservative? I think that a person's ideology will color the way they view this issue. I am willing to admit that since I am a fiscal conservative I will probably see more cases where I believe fraud is involved than someone who is more fiscally liberal. I'm sure the truth is somewhere in the middle - probably a decent amount of fraud, but not as much as I think there is.

peace.

“At least I admit I'm a fool.”

Since: May 09

Madeuppington, Fakeasota

#178 Jun 4, 2009
tlj1067 wrote:
<quoted text>

Oh, and the most rampant fraud & opportunity for abuse isn't the single mother collecting MFIP. It is the elderly nursing home patient hiding or sheltering assets while Medicaid is picking up the $4000/mo tab for his/her care.
This is a good point, but you need to look at what has been promised to the person over the years. Were they told that medicare (or whatever it is called) will take care of their medical needs, were they told that social security would take care of their financial needs? I completely get where you are coming from, but I do think we need to look at the whole story - why might a person think they are entitled to keep those assets even though they are ringing up huge bills, and how can we change that perception...and the laws that allow it to happen.

Peace.
drew15

Mayer, MN

#179 Jun 4, 2009
tlj1067 wrote:
<quoted text>
I didn't say any of that. What I said was that, in practical terms of cost containment, spending a lot of time/effort/resources to go after the very few actual cases of welfare fraud just doesn't make a lot of sense.
Your argument doesn't seem cohesive to me. Fraud exists. Responsible people in the government need to be diligent about looking for fraud when it occurs.

Since: Jun 09

Saint Paul, MN

#180 Jun 5, 2009
drew15 wrote:
<quoted text>
Your argument doesn't seem cohesive to me. Fraud exists. Responsible people in the government need to be diligent about looking for fraud when it occurs.
There are already mechanisms in place to verify certain information. Many other things would be difficult, if not outright impossible, to legislate and/or track. To an extent, we must rely on someone's willingness to disclose certain facts or to report changes in a timely manner. From an agency perspective, when fraud occurs, and it is verified, it is usually pursued -- but there are many factors involved in that decision, including how cost effective it would be to spend thousands of dollars of legal bills in order to receive a judgment - and whether or not it is likely that the money will be recovered. It isn't my job to pursue that, and I don't have the level of expertise to make those judgments. Certainly, if/when I uncover fraud, I report it. The matter just isn't as cut and dried as many people assume. True fraud is rare. Failure to report or disclose an asset, income, household composition changes, etc are usually deemed reporting errors, as it is difficult to prove that the intent was to commit fraud. Our clients must jump through many hoops, not the least of which is learning to navigate this messy bureaucracy, in order to receive benefits that, at most, ensure only sustenance. This is my job, I do it as best I can, and I've learned that many societal assumptions about welfare (and the people who receive it) are very ignorant and blatantly false. I wouldn't have learned that, had I not taken this job.

Since: Jun 09

Saint Paul, MN

#181 Jun 5, 2009
Integillentz wrote:
<quoted text>
I am suggesting that the system be reformed so that they money is not sent to the wrong people in the first place.
***
May I ask, are you a fiscal conservative? I think that a person's ideology will color the way they view this issue. I am willing to admit that since I am a fiscal conservative I will probably see more cases where I believe fraud is involved than someone who is more fiscally liberal. I'm sure the truth is somewhere in the middle - probably a decent amount of fraud, but not as much as I think there is.
peace.
I don't think that my political ideology has much to do with how I view welfare fraud; I think that my perspective has been more informed by the fact that it is my job to serve the public, and over the years, I've learned a lot about just who that is. Most of my clients are people who are suffering from mental or physical illness, chemical dependency, learning disabilities, personality disorders and any number of other issues that make self-sufficiency extremely difficult if not outright impossible. I seldom encounter an individual whom I feel is trying to milk the system and is just too lazy to work. Doesn't mean that it never happens -- just that it's a rarity.
drew15

Mayer, MN

#182 Jun 5, 2009
tlj1067 wrote:
<quoted text>
There are already mechanisms in place to verify certain information.
True. Are they being utilized?
tlj1067 wrote:
<quoted text>
There are already mechanisms in place to verify certain information. Many other things would be difficult, if not outright impossible, to legislate and/or track.
What are those things? Seems full disclosure on an applicant's part should be mandatory for state aid.

Since: Jun 09

Saint Paul, MN

#183 Jun 5, 2009
drew15 wrote:
<quoted text>
True. Are they being utilized?
<quoted text>
What are those things? Seems full disclosure on an applicant's part should be mandatory for state aid.
Drew, how would you verify if a client has a bank account, or more than one bank account? How do you verify income received by illegal means? How do you verify household composition (i.e., baby's father isn't living with the mother)? Like it or not, there are certain things that just cannot be ascertained, and there are legal implications as well. To the best of our abilities, and by utilizing resources that are legally available to us, we do verify income, assets, household composition, and other factors that would affect a client's eligibility. You'd like to hold onto your belief that welfare fraud is rampant, and that it's a simple matter of government inefficiency and laziness/indifference on the part of those collecting benefits, and those issuing them. That's fine. Unless you tell me that you work for the Department of Human Services, or with vulnerable people, or have any actual first-hand knowledge of welfare, welfare recipients, and the state and federal laws regarding eligibility factors, I'm just going to assume that your opinion is based more on ignorance than on any actual knowledge.

“At least I admit I'm a fool.”

Since: May 09

Madeuppington, Fakeasota

#184 Jun 5, 2009
tlj1067 wrote:
<quoted text>
I don't think that my political ideology has much to do with how I view welfare fraud; I think that my perspective has been more informed by the fact that it is my job to serve the public, and over the years, I've learned a lot about just who that is. Most of my clients are people who are suffering from mental or physical illness, chemical dependency, learning disabilities, personality disorders and any number of other issues that make self-sufficiency extremely difficult if not outright impossible. I seldom encounter an individual whom I feel is trying to milk the system and is just too lazy to work. Doesn't mean that it never happens -- just that it's a rarity.
Okay, fine, but I would be willing to be that you are a fairly liberal person. I know people who are very conservative, but for whatever reason they work for the government and they come to a very different conclusion than you do. It is just a theory.

I am not trying to insult you or diminish what you are saying. My point was simply that two people can see the same things and come to completely different conclusions.
mary

Saint Paul, MN

#185 Jun 5, 2009
Louie53 wrote:
<quoted text>Sorry, I didn't mean to sound sarcastic. I realize most of you work very hard. I am not on assistance, but have seen and know of people who have abused the system. Is there anywhere we can report these people to?
You can call the county, but it is hard for them to prove. The persons I know sell drugs and other things for cash. We have reported them but nothing happens.Also if you have kids from different fathers they get cash now and then from the guys.
drew15

Minneapolis, MN

#186 Jun 5, 2009
Addressing one issue
tlj1067 wrote:
<quoted text>
Drew, how would you verify if a client has a bank account?
Call a the client's bank with their prior approval and legal documentation. How hard is that?
Sumchick

Minneapolis, MN

#187 Jun 6, 2009
drew15 wrote:
Addressing one issue
<quoted text>
Call a the client's bank with their prior approval and legal documentation. How hard is that?
Uh ... wouldn't it be nice if the client DISCLOSED that they had a bank account so that the worker could call that bank? You missed the point again, drew15. How hard is that?

Since: Jun 09

Minneapolis, MN

#188 Jun 7, 2009
drew15 wrote:
Addressing one issue
<quoted text>
Call a the client's bank with their prior approval and legal documentation. How hard is that?
Well, that is assuming that the bank account information was disclosed in the first place. Then yes, it is simple to obtain (but not by calling the bank; they will not release information with verbal authorization).

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