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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The 22News I-Team continues to dig deeper into how the state’s welfare department protects our tax dollars.
In our first investigation that aired last week, the I-Team discovered the Department of Transitional Assistance, or DTA, which oversees the state’s welfare system, has made significant improvements in the past year, yet we discovered another problem.
A welfare recipient is allowed to lose four EBT cards before they would have to explain themselves to someone from the DTA. Only then does the Department of Transitional Assistance check for possible signs of SNAP trafficking, where someone would sell their card for cash. Although, in prior administrations, a recipient could receive an unlimited number of replacement cards, no questions asked.
“If there is any indication that that is going on, then we do an automatic fraud referral and we investigate people for that,” said DTA Commissioner Stacey Monahan.
The I-Team found out that there are 4.75 million drivers licenses in Massachusetts. In 2013, about 4% needed a duplicate license. Around 186,020 duplicate licenses.
There were about 887,319 individuals with EBT cards in 2013, on average more than 20% needed a replacement card. That’s 184,716 cards replaced.
“I think it’s been pretty constant the 1-2 replacement cards, a lot of our clients are homeless, and are living in different places from night to night, so there’s circumstances where they could potentially lose a card,” said Monahan.
If you lose your license, it’s going to cost you $25 to replace it. On average the state makes between $4-$5 million a year on duplicate licenses.
If you lose an EBT, the DTA will take $5 out of your account, they just started this last year, so far they’ve saved about $500,000.
Commissioner Monahan told 22News that they’ve seen an 86% reduction in high volume requests that is people asking for 8 or more replacement cards.
“I sat in on an interview for someone coming in for her 4th card, it was in the Holyoke office. The last transaction was in Boston, her oldest child was being treated for a tumor in his back and she was taking the bus back and forth and she lost it on the bus, it’s that level of detail that we look at before we issue a replacement card,” said Monahan.
In 2011, Massachusetts drivers need 198,729 duplicate licenses across all classes. In 2012, 186,938 duplicate licenses were processed. In 2013, that number fell to 186,020.
In 2011, there were 180,503 EBT replacement cards given out. In 2012, there were 182,404 and in 2013 there were 184,716.
In 2011, the average caseload the DTA handled was 823,558 individuals covering 454,090 households.
In 2012, the average caseload the DTA handled was 872,310 individuals covering 487,335 households.
In 2013, the average caseload the DTA handled was 887,319 individuals covering 499,096 households.
Beginning in April 2013, $5 was deducted from each account when a replacement card was issued.