A government watchdog group found that more than 65,000 significant lottery winners since 2019 continued to collect food stamps even when they were above the federal income threshold for the program.
The Government Accountability Foundation’s study of data from thirteen states shows that recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), known as food stamps, took home significant lottery winnings ranging from $4,250 to $2 million, all amounts above the federal asset threshold to qualify for the state aid program.
“It shocks the mind and defies belief,” Hayden Dublois, director of data and analytics at FGA, told Fox News Digital. “And that’s data from just 13 states. The number of 50 states is probably titanic. The scale of the problem is staggering – even by government standards.”
During that time period, fewer than 400 lottery winners have been removed from the food stamp program, according to the FGA. 41.8 million people are enrolled in this program, an increase of about 5 million since before the pandemic.
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And it’s an expensive program. Food stamp spending doubled from $60 billion in 2019 to $120 billion last year.
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“The food stamp program is a safety net designed to help the truly needy, not lottery winners or millionaires,” Dulois said. “All it would take is a simple database cross-check and an asset test, but most states don’t do that.”
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In its study, the FGA concluded that among the 13 states surveyed, Illinois ranked worst. The Land of Lincoln had more than 50,000 winners of substantial food stamp lottery prizes, but eliminated only 99, the FGA found.
FGA argues that a solution to this problem could be adding reforms to the food stamp program in the upcoming farm bill, a package passed every five years that sets policies and funding levels for agriculture, food assistance programs, natural resources and other programs.
A number of Republican lawmakers in both chambers on Capitol Hill have already introduced measures that would close a loophole in the food stamp program that allows ineligible recipients to remain enrolled.
In June, Congressman Ben Klein, R-Va., introduced the No Welfare for the Rich Act, which aims to establish asset and income thresholds for Americans to qualify for SNAP. It would end what is known as broad-based categorical eligibility (BBCE) for these programs, which allows Americans whose wealth is higher than federal guidelines for these programs to still receive food assistance.
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Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, introduced a similar bill in September. The Inaccurate SNAP Payment Refund Act, she says she could cut spending by nearly $1 billion a month by requiring all errors, no matter the amount, to be counted and directing state governments to stop handing out impermissible benefits or face part of the cost.
“Families across the country are going hungry while bureaucrats jump the line to gobble up SNAP dollars, either as food stamps to shore up state budgets or as a self-service buffet of benefits for themselves or others who don’t qualify Ernst said in September.
“It’s time for the guilty states to pay the piper and eat the cost of their taxpayers’ waste.” Instead of over-serving bureaucrats, let’s end the waste and leave room at the table for hungry families.”
Original article source: 65,000 stayed on food stamps despite winning big lottery win, government figures show