Governor Rick Snyder has signed a new law (House Bill 4042) to ensure that dead people and incarcerated citizens are not eligible for Michigan’s Bridge Card food assistance program.
The Department of Human Services already has policies to ensure that those who are not eligible (example: dead people and those incarcerated) do not receive aid. But House Bill 4042 makes the policy a law.
House Bill 4042 legally requires DHS to check incarceration records and deactivate the Bridge Cards of recipients who are in prison. The legislation also requires the state to routinely check and terminate card access for recipients found in the U.S. Social Security Death Index database.
Bridge Card access would be ended if the card were linked to someone who is dead or incarcerated.
"As a state we must always look at ways to be more efficient with taxpayer dollars, and nobody wins when welfare funding is being misused," the bill’s sponsor – Rep. Tim Kelly, R-Saginaw Township – said in a statement.
How many dead people are claiming welfare benefits anyway?
According to the Senate Fiscal Agency’s Bill Analysis, food assistance program fraud in Michigan was estimated to total $17.5 million from 2009 to 2011.
The report stated that they do not know the extent to which deceased recipients’ bridge cards contribute to the fraud but it is “presumably” a factor in some cases.
In lieu of reports that 1,000 dead people are on welfare in Massachusetts, what may seem like a ludicrous law may be essential to preventing fraud.
- Julia Field, Michigan Radio Newsroom