Minnesota Hands Out Welfare to Ineligible Recipients

shutterstock_107544971Minnesota is a little too nice to some of its welfare recipients. The state’s legislative auditor discovered the Department of Human Services (DHS) has handed out benefits to ineligible people.

The audit released Friday reviewed several major federally funded programs aimed at helping low-income, elderly and disabled Minnesotans. For these programs, the legislative auditor reviewed the Department of Human Services’ processes, and checked a random sample of cases to identify errors.

It found significant error rates in the Temporary Assistance For Needy Families program, which provides cash and other benefits to low-income families with children. …and the audit found eight of 24 families it reviewed weren’t eligible for benefits they received.

That’s just over 33% of a random sampling, which is not a great track record. Especially since this isn’t the first time eligibility errors have been made.

A 2014 audit had found shortcomings in how DHS verified eligibility for these programs, and this time “the department acknowledged that it had not fully resolved most of the findings of our earlier audit of the eligibility determinations in the Minnesota eligibility system.”

And while legislators have pushed for a “major review of eligibility for public programs, in hopes of identifying people wrongly receiving state benefits,” DHS “questioned how much savings could be achieved by a tighter eligibility review.” Depending on who you ask, projected savings from an overhaul could range from $150-$300 million.

Seems like money Minnesota could find a good use for, considering the other ways $150 million has been spent: MN United’s new soccer stadium, 3M’s research and development facility, the Target Center’s renovation costs.

Let’s hope these audits finally initiate a necessary crackdown on abuse of public programs. Now that would be nice.