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Audit: 2,300 Deceased People on Welfare

HARRISBURG — In just one year, Pennsylvania paid public assistance benefits to more than 2,300 dead people, according to an audit released Thursday by Pen...
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HARRISBURG -- In just one year, Pennsylvania paid public assistance benefits to more than 2,300 dead people, according to an audit released Thursday by Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale.

The auditor general's 114-page audit found the state paid benefits to some people after they died. In one case, a woman died in March 2013 but someone went on an $800 shopping spree using that woman's Access Card during the holiday shopping season.

The auditor general said the Department of Human Services needs to hold itself more accountable when it comes to monitoring who is paid benefits on EBT cards.

From July 2013 to June 2014, the audit found more than 2,300 dead people received public assistance benefits.

DePasquale says it totaled almost $700,000.

The auditor general says in half the known cases, someone spent on the Access Cards after the card holder died.

"DHS has acknowledged that case workers should have referred these cases to the Inspector General, but did not," said Auditor General DePasquale.

DePasquale adds 15,000 people receiving benefits spent $22 million in other states over a three-year period.

While some of that money may have been spent on food and services in neighboring states, the auditor general found $14 million spent in Florida, a high percentage of that during winter months.

Money was spent in other resort states.

"And nearly $100,000 in Hawaii. It's probably safe to say most people weren't going to Hawaii to do their grocery shopping," DePasquale said.

The Department of Human Services released a statement claiming the amount of money paid to dead people at about $330,000 -- less than half of what the audit found.

The DHS also says it has made changes to, "ensure only those who are eligible receive benefits."