Massachusetts gave millions of dollars in questionable public assistance to people who were listed as dead, used multiple Social Security numbers to boost their payments, or apparently sold their benefit cards for cash over the past few years, according to a state audit released Tuesday.
The report by State Auditor Suzanne Bump is the latest study finding that the state did not do nearly enough to ensure that welfare benefits went only to qualified recipients. The head of the agency that administers the aid quit in January after another scathing report from the inspector general.
Bump’s audit found that 1,160 recipients were either dead or used a deceased person’s Social Security number, costing $2.4 million between July 2010 and April 2012.
It also flagged another $15.6 million in suspicious transactions from electronic benefit cards between 2010 and 2012, including cards that were used as far away as Alaska, Hawaii, or the US Virgin Islands, suggesting the recipients either no longer lived in Massachusetts or had extra cash for travel.
Bump said that she thought the bulk of the $1.7 billion a year in welfare programs the state provides each year was probably spent properly, but she was disturbed that the state did not do more to investigate obvious signs of abuse or waste.
You have reached the limit of 5 free articles in a month
Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.
- High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
- Convenient access across all of your devices
- Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
- Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
- Less than 25¢ a week