Audit Alleges Misuse Of Benefit Cards By Some Welfare Recipients

Tom Schweich, state auditor | Photo from tomschweich.com
State Auditor Tom Schweich released a report suggesting $722,000 worth of misuse of electronic benefit transfer cards in fiscal year 2012. | Photo from tomschweich.com

A report from Missouri’s auditor finds that some welfare recipients in Missouri have used their benefits to buy things besides food and other daily necessities, while others may have moved away but continue to get in-state benefits.

The audit centers on the use of EBT (electronic benefit transfer) cards from Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, a federal program administered on the state level in all 50 states. Missouri Auditor Tom Schweich said during fiscal year 2012, around $261,000 in benefits were spent at businesses associated with gambling, alcohol, tobacco and adult entertainment. Missouri passed a state law earlier this year banning EBT cards from being used at such places.

The audit also found people in other states accessed around $461,000 in Missouri benefits for periods of time longer than 90 days, which may indicate that they’ve moved away. The audit examined $96 million in benefits paid out through the use of EBT cards from July 1, 2011, through June 30, 2012. While Schweich said that the amounts involved — $461,000 and $261,000 — make up less than 1 percent of the total value of the program, he said that “because it’s such a big program, it’s still a lot of money.”

Read more from St. Louis Public Radio


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