Bay State EBT card carriers spent nearly $50 million in welfare cash out of the state last year — including destinations as far away as the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, officials said yesterday.
A total of nearly 27,000 welfare recipients used their state benefits elsewhere between July 2013, and this past April, the Department of Transitional Assistance reported.
The DTA reported 2,741 food stamp accounts were shut off in the past year after the recipients spent more than 90 days out of state. Another 246 cash assistance accounts were also closed during the same time period after recipients lived outside Massachusetts for more than 60 days, according to DTA Commissioner Stacey Monahan in a letter to state Rep. Shaunna O’Connell (R-Taunton).
“I’m glad, due to the reforms that we have forced them to make, that it looks like some people are being cut off assistance when they’re abusing it,” O’Connell said. “I was concerned, however, that there were almost 27,000 people out of state for more than 30 days accessing benefits.”
Massachusetts recipients used welfare benefits in all 50 states and Puerto Rico in the past year, according to the letter.
EBT card users spent more than $3.3 million in food stamps and EBT cash in Florida and more than $25,000 in the Virgin Islands, said Monahan in the letter, citing new policies put in place last year to crack down on welfare fraud. Almost $6,000 was spent in Alaska, $357,000 in California and $25,000 in Hawaii, the letter states.
“An automated program reviews the transactions for clients spending time out of state,” Monahan added, “and when a client has been out of state for an extended period, our program integrity unit is notified.”
New Hampshire was the most popular destination, with $22 million in Bay State welfare case spent in the Granite State.
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