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Florida DCF’s Answer to Welfare Recipients’ Unforwarded Addresses: Cut Off Benefits

| September 7, 2012

It’s not as if DCF’s policies look better. (centermez)

The Florida Department of Children and Families has approved a change that would end public-assistance benefits for people who don’t report new addresses, drawing concerns that some low-income residents could unnecessarily lose food and medical aid.

The department, in an Aug. 29 memo to program offices and managers, spelled out requirements for people reporting address changes and said that if “the post office returns mail (sent by DCF to beneficiaries) as undeliverable, take appropriate action to end the benefits.”

DCF spokesman Joe Follick said Thursday the change would apply to a small percentage of people who continue to receive correspondence by mail instead of online. He said it is designed to help curb fraud, such as people moving to another state and continuing to receive benefits from Florida.

“It’s a fraud and waste issue for us,” Follick said.

But Anne Swerlick, an attorney for Florida Legal Services, which represents low-income people, described the change as a “draconian way to deal with this issue.” It would apply to the state’s food-assistance program, commonly known in the past as food stamps, Medicaid and a program that provides temporary cash assistance to families.

Swerlick said the change could lead to people going to grocery stores or doctor’s offices, only to find out their benefits have ended.

“This could be highly disruptive … because people have to move for all sorts of reasons,” Swerlick said.

Follick, however, said the change is not “onerous” and discounted the odds of people finding out they have lost benefits when they go to a grocery store or doctor’s office. He said it has always been a federal requirement that people in the programs report address changes to DCF.

The change, which took effect Sept. 1, would tighten the requirement by holding out the possibility of ending benefits. In the past, benefits would continue until people needed to reapply to the programs — which could be a period of months.

Swerlick said the change came as a surprise and that her agency has asked DCF a number of questions about how it will work. That includes trying to determine what appeal rights people will have if their benefits are cut off.

The Aug.29 memo spells out ways that people can get benefits reinstated if they are cut off. The details vary by program, but new applications could be required in at least some cases.

Medicaid, which provides health care to more than 3 million low-income people, is largely run by the state Agency for Health Care Administration. But DCF determines eligibility for many of the people enrolled in the program.

–Jim Saunders, News Service of Florida

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12 Responses for “Florida DCF’s Answer to Welfare Recipients’ Unforwarded Addresses: Cut Off Benefits”

  1. Anon says:

    Fraud !
    Any substantial fraud is being perpetrated by the vendors, the givers of goods and services.

    Whatever fraud is being committed by the recipients pales in comparison to that committed by health care providers.

    Yeah,a welfare recipient took $15,000 in illegal benefits over 5 years. And a clinic bills hundreds of thousands in fraudulent claims.

    Anyone ever think that maybe these poor people have become homeless?

  2. I'm glad I left PC says:

    Good for DCF about time, these people need to get jobs like the rest of us and stop sucking off the system like a bunch of leeches!!!! So sick of entitlements!!! it should be workfare instead. Thank the democrats for this mess.

  3. Jean Meekhof Miller Stowell says:

    If you want benefits pay attention to the guidelines/rules.

  4. question says:

    Wow, Florida in a nut shell. Five to one against fair, humane treatment of their fellow man.
    AND proud of it!!

  5. "My Daily Rant" says:

    I get a kick out of some of you people,Poor Welfare people you are fools.I as a taxpayer believe the Goverment doesnt go far enough while spending MY money.1) I believe that if I need to be Drug Tested to get a job to support these people, they should be tested to take my money.2) They should have to seek employment while collecting my money. 3)They should not be allowed to reproduce while collecting my money, if you go on Welfare with one kid thats all we will pay for.4) You should have to be American born to collect my money.5) There should be a time limit on how long they can collect my money.some of these familys go through generations collecting, Why work.

  6. rickg says:

    Uh what happens when a corporation who took tax credits, exemtions etc moves here for a year or two and then closes or moves to another state….. Nothing. So the items mentioned above and all of the other “make em work” people out there should insist that corporations should do the same…. stop taking taxpayer dollars for no work. And how many of those corporate CEOs had to pee in a cup to get their welfare?

  7. Maryjoe says:

    I see nothing wrong with the people who are receiving benefits or their caretaker be responsible and participate. If they are ‘homeless’ then how are they getting their benefits mailed to them to being with?

    • Nancy N. says:

      Benefits are delivered by being deposited onto prepaid debit cards that are good for either cash or food stamps. Once you receive your card, the state doesn’t mail you anything else. They simply credit your card each month for the amount of your benefits.

    • Nancy N. says:

      You know what kills me about this discussion? When the news recently was about a financially secure white guy not changing his address (with NJ voter registration) and wanting out of the consequences of that (not being able to run as a Republican on an election ballot) – almost everyone here was saying it was ridiculous that the failure to change an address should become such a problem.

      But when it’s poor mostly minorities not changing their address, you want to make these same people (and more importantly their SMALL CHILDREN) actually starve as a consequence.

      Double standard, anyone?

  8. Outsider says:

    How freaking hard is it to go online or mail a letter to the appropriate address in order to continue benefits? I hardly find that too much to ask to continue getting benefits. No wonder people stay on these programs; the accountability and responsibility requirement is less than zero.

  9. Liana G says:

    This seems like a very reasonable request.

    What happens if the person were to lose their card, or had it stolen? Surely they would be contacting the office in a heartbeat for a replacement card, which would then have to be mailed to the address on file. If I were on public assistance, I would take it upon myself to make sure my address is current so that my source of money is not jepordized. If that’s all that’s needed to collect public assistance, someone please tell me where to sign up.

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