Audit: Inmates, dead people sent food stamps, welfare benefits - | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Audit: Inmates, dead people sent food stamps, welfare benefits

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An Arizona's Auditor General's Office says the Department of Economic Security's Division of Benefits and Eligibility is generally doing a good job.

But there are some areas of concern - such as continuing to send food stamps and other welfare benefits to dead people and inmates in Arizona's prison system.

The Auditor General's Office issued the new report on the Department of Economic Security's Division of Benefits and Eligibility, based on data from 2012.

The audit found DES generally had effective procedures in place and performed data matches and analysis to ensure it made proper benefit payments.

But, it also found room for improvement.

DES authorized $1.75 billion in food stamps and welfare benefits in 2012.

The report shows some of that money went to people behind bars and in the grave.

"We are in the process of working with the Office of Vital Statistics, Arizona Department of Health Services and the Department of Corrections to get these loopholes closed," said Nicole Moon, a DES spokesperson.

The Auditor General's Office compared names, Social Security numbers and birth dates, of those on the state's food stamp and welfare programs, with the Department of Corrections' inmate records.

Nearly 14,000 names matched.

But, we don't know how many of those inmates actually collected benefits in 2012.

According to the report, while DES has a data-sharing process to prevent inmates in Maricopa County jails from receiving benefits, it doesn't have that same process with some other counties or the DOC.

"We are actively working with the sheriffs of every county to share that data, so that we can cross check their inmate lists with our recipient list," Moon explained. "So, that's an ongoing process."

The audit also found some participants were authorized benefits after their deaths and that some electronic benefit transfer cards were used after a person died.

Moon said DES is working on fixing that issue too.

To read the entire report by the Auditor General's Office, click here.

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