Welfare Loopholes Found in Maryland

Tom LoBianco, Washington Times, December 13, 2007

Maryland paid welfare benefits to about 52,000 residents who in 2006 did not provide Social Security numbers or used invalid ones, according to a state audit of the Family Investment Administration.

The report, completed by the state Office of Legislative Audits, also found the computer software used to check eligibility for the federal food-stamps program and the state cash-assistance program could not check 90 percent of the recipients. The administration paid out $488 million from July 2006 to June 2007.

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Maryland’s Department of Human Resources, which oversees the administration, investigated the 52,000 cases and determined that 36,905 had valid Social Security numbers but had not reported them because of a federal guideline that allows aid recipients 12 months before requiring the number.

The 52,000 cases were out of 887,000 handled by the administration last year.

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The legislative audit found 47,000 of the 52,000 recipients had not provided Social Security numbers. It also found about 5,000 of the 52,000 had bogus numbers or numbers that did not match birth dates.

Mr. Barnickel said the numbers are not final and should be further investigated, which is what one Republican lawmaker is requesting.

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Mr. McDonough said the administration could be spending money on illegal aliens and prison inmates using the window of time from when a person starts receiving benefits to when they have to report their Social Security number.

“People can give a phony Social Security number and collect benefits,” he said.

But Mr. Barnickel [state auditor Tom Barnickel] said the larger issue may be how the agency tracks cases and verifies information.

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