Massachusetts officials are trying to figure out why $2.4 million in welfare was given to dead recipients or people who were otherwise not eligible for benefits, it was reported.
The head of the state’s Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) said that many issues pointed out in state Auditor Suzanne Bump’s report have already been worked out, prompting officials in March to pledge to end welfare abuse.
The audit, which was made public recently, found that 1,164 people got welfare benefits after they died, reported WCVB-TV. Some received payments for as long as 27 months. In all, it cost nearly $2.4 million.
The broadcaster reported that the payments were doled out primarily through people who used their dead relatives’ electronic benefits transfer (EBT) cards.
“Clearly there has not been sufficient priority placed on preventing fraud in that agency,” Bump said. “Fraud prevention has to be a major focus of any government benefit program. It clearly was not a major focus.”
“This audit demonstrates that DTA can do more to ensure that only eligible people are receiving benefits and that those benefits are not being abused,” Bump said in a statement obtained by The Associated Press.
Bump also blamed the DTA for not verifying self-reported Social Security numbers, which resulted in the agency paying out more than $1 million in welfare benefits to people who had separate Social Security numbers, AP reported.