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TwinCities.com

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

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).  (Jun 7, 2009 | post #188)

TwinCities.com

Is Minnesota's welfare system a magnet -- or just an easy...

All of these guidelines are already in place, and already mandated for welfare recipients (those receiving MFIP). They must look for a job. They must accept any employment offered. They must work with employment counselors to ensure that they are actively seeking employment. There is a 5-year max-out time limit for MFIP. Clients who are receiving MFIP and then become pregnant do not receive any additional cash for the new child. Clients who have a history of money mismanagement have the cash portions of their grants vendored to their landlords and/or utility company. Now that I've explained this fact to you, will you stop making assumptions? (Probably not, I know).  (Jun 5, 2009 | post #255)

TwinCities.com

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

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.  (Jun 5, 2009 | post #183)

TwinCities.com

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

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.  (Jun 5, 2009 | post #181)

TwinCities.com

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

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.  (Jun 5, 2009 | post #180)

TwinCities.com

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

I didn't say any of that. What I said was that, in practical terms of cost containment, spending a lot of time/effort/resour ces 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.  (Jun 4, 2009 | post #175)

TwinCities.com

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

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.  (Jun 4, 2009 | post #173)