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Thursday, June 30, 2016

Lottery winners exemplify entitlement problems

Thursday, March 8, 2012

How bad is the economy in suburban Detroit?

If you asked 24-year-old Amanda Clayton, of Lincoln Park, she might say something like, "It's so bad, I have to continue using food stamps despite winning the lottery."

Detroit news station WDIV has reported that Clayton is still using a state-sponsored BRIDGE card to buy $200 of food every month, despite taking home an approximate $500,000 lump sum from a $1 million jackpot last fall.

"I thought that they would cut me off, but since they didn't, I thought maybe it was OK because I'm not working," Clayton told the station when confronted.

She later justified her decision by saying, "I feel that it's OK because, I mean, I have no income and I have bills to pay. I have two houses."

At one point in the interview she said, "I'm still struggling."


Tell that to the millions of Americans who don't even have one home.

Tell that to the single moms who work two jobs just to keep food on the table for their kids.

They'd likely have plenty to say about it and their statements would be anything but empathetic.

The crazy thing is Clayton is not the only person who's stayed on public assistance despite a financial windfall. Fellow Michigan resident Leroy Fick, 59, of Auburn, took home a lump sum of $850,000 and was surprised when he learned he could still pay for food with the government's buck.

"I'm going by the rules and if they need to change the rules, they can change the rules, but I don't see I'm doing anything wrong," he said on an episode of Fox and Friends back in 2011.

Fick and Clayton are right: They're not technically doing anything wrong, according to current federal and Michigan laws.

However, the Michigan House and Senate and both passed a bill that would require the state to cross-check the names of lottery winners of prizes over $1,000 with names of individuals receiving assistance.

The Michigan legislature is trying to do the right thing. Now it's time for the federal government to do the same thing.

Entitlements and interest take up about 65 percent of the federal budget and it's time to have a serious discussion about both.

The main discussion should include a plan for people on entitlements to have an opportunity to stand on their own two feet.

Second, loopholes should be closed so people cannot milk the system.

Furthermore, how will Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security be modified so they can stay viable going forward?

For the sake of future Americans, those discussions need to happen sooner rather than later.

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This is crazy isn't it? I have not had the opportunity to learn much about this situation but I see (from your article) that now they plan to cross check for winnings over a $1000. Talk about over compensatating! I believe they should keep an eye on winnings bu really $1000. Let the poor person enjoy a month of catching up if it is that small of a winning. On the other hand what do you set it at? I'm not sure :S

-- Posted by deweyh on Thu, Mar 8, 2012, at 7:48 AM

I quess that lottery winners who still use food stamps is such a widespread problem that we need to spend millions on reform to make sure that the state gets back thier $200 a month.

-- Posted by Cookster on Thu, Mar 8, 2012, at 8:46 AM

Such unmitigated waste! That woman ought to be put to community service at minimum wage to recompense the state of MI for all bennifits paid out since the day of the drawing.

-- Posted by Surfsup on Thu, Mar 8, 2012, at 2:57 PM

Cookster, lottery winners may not be all that common, but there are other types of windfall, such as court settlements, inheritances, etc. There are also other types of welfare fraud. Why not include lottery recipients in with a general fraud check on our welfare system? Also, I'm curious how you figure it will cost millions. Maybe it will, I'm just curious how.

-- Posted by notinia on Sat, Mar 10, 2012, at 5:06 PM

Since there is a process to get from holding a winning lottery number to collecting the check, and assuming the actual bank deposit is after taxes, I wouldn't think it would cost that much to put each lottery winner through a Department of Revenue check before arriving at the final amount of the check.

If MI is like Iowa, all court fines, taxes, traffic fines that are overdue, and some other crazy things are run through the Department of Revenue. They could go ahead and take care of everything with a hold on it and send out a notice to DHS so they can calculate changes to food stamps, child support, and other programs for the following month.

As I see it, that whole process should be a few keyboard strokes on a computer. And yes, I think such processes should start at a winning of $5,000 or more -- maybe even $10,000. If DHS would watch the lottery website, they could cross check to make sure the person reported the windfall in a timely manner. And if they're on TANF (welfare check) that amount of money would not mean they aren't still looking for a job as is required for that program. The state could withhold their big $300 a month and still offer/require the job club classes, etc.

Just my $0.02. A half million dollars is really quite a windfall. Amounts in the lower five figures maybe are not such a big deal.

-- Posted by AmyPeterson on Mon, Mar 12, 2012, at 8:06 AM

I'd like to point out that this woman was not committing fraud. She took advantage of a loophole that should be closed. Just as all the loopholes all people of means use such as sinking all of their money into multi million dollar homes in FL & TX, declaring bankruptcy to avoid debts then living off the home equity as the home is exempt from the bankruptcy.

-- Posted by helped_myself on Sat, Mar 17, 2012, at 3:37 PM

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Gabe Licht
Junior Moments