Audit: State gave millions in welfare aid to dead people

Massachusetts State House. PHOTO CREDIT: Peter Eimon/Flickr
Massachusetts State House. PHOTO CREDIT: Peter Eimon/Flickr

The state Department of Transitional Assistance sent more than $2 million in welfare aid to more than 1,100 people who had died, according to the results of an audit released Tuesday. 

The audit released by state Auditor Suzanne Bump’s office details various “millions of dollars in questionable benefits, inadequate security over blank electronic benefit cards and a need for improved fraud detection.” The DTA handles various welfare programs for families, the elderly and disabled people including food stamps, EBT cards and transitional aid to families with children. In Fiscal Year 2012, the agency administered more than $1.7 billion in benefits.

Auditors identified 1,164 cases in which people continued to receive benefits after they were reported to be deceased. Some individuals were assigned benefits for more than two years after they had been reported dead. In a majority of those cases, the audit said, unauthorized people were using the money.

“In a majority of sampled cases, store purchases and ATM transactions were made after the recipients’ dates of death, suggesting that unauthorized persons were using public benefits,” Bump’s office said.

The audit also found that people were receiving benefits under two separate social security numbers.

Inside the agency, auditors found various missteps including incomplete reports and a failure to use technology that could detect fraud.

Bump’s office pointed out that the DTA did implement a 100-day action plan to try to rectify some of the problems. That action plan was announced in March.

“I am encouraged that DTA has implemented a 100-day plan and is working to address each of these issues and improve its operations,” Bump said.

Follow Michael Naughton on Twitter @metrobosmike.



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