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Post  fshnski Sun Sep 01, 2013 6:11 pm

New Hampshire Union Leader

MANCHESTER - A new study says some welfare recipients receive $37,160 in benefits a year in New Hampshire, but a state welfare official says few, if any, get that much because they aren't eligible to collect from every available program.

"The study is structurally unsound," Terry Smith, director of the state Division of Family Assistance, said Friday.

Smith said the state doesn't track how much an individual welfare recipient collects in total from the various government assistance programs, but he said it was "very unlikely" that someone would collect from the seven different programs cited by the study.

The study, conducted by the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, concluded that welfare recipients in New Hampshire receive the equivalent hourly wage of $19.11, and someone working a job here would need to make nearly $40,000 a year to receive as much as a welfare recipient collects.

"They should be consolidating these programs and then put a cap in," said Michael Tanner, the study's co-author. "Some people may be getting a whole lot, and the states don't know and the federal government doesn't know."

Smith agreed a streamlined system would benefit states and the poor.

"I think that would be an ideal," he said. "A one-stop shop would determine eligibility, and clients would only go to one place."

But Smith said there is "nil" chance that Congress would make the necessary changes.

The study said New Hampshire notched the third-highest hike in benefits among states since Cato conducted a similar study in 1995, when adjusting for inflation. The overall benefits rose by $6,994 during that time, greater than everywhere else but Vermont ($9,367), the District of Columbia ($8,730) and Hawaii ($7,265).

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