All Articles Tagged "public assistance"

Does it Pay More To Live Off Welfare Than Work?

August 23rd, 2014 - By Toya Sharee
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Last week I came past an article a friend had shared on Facebook that I assumed were the ramblings of some bitter Republican blogger. Upon skimming I came across phrases that seem to blame President Obama for everything from the deficit to the Fat Boys breaking up.

But the title, “Welfare Is The Best Paying Entry-Level Job In 35 States” intrigued me and I had to investigate if there was any truth to the idea that it pays more to live off the system than put in a hard day’s work. Even if it was just Republican propaganda, I had a feeling in some way it might just have a point.

I’m not judging those on welfare or making any assumptions about the lifestyles of those who have to rely on it. Who knows, maybe one day life will place me in a position where I have a little yellow and green card of my own. But I can’t help but be reminded of the words of my mother who grew up on welfare and worked her behind off so that eventually she and her family didn’t need to rely on public assistance:

“It’s those cards I tell you. The cards made them feel like they’re just like everyone else. When I was growing up people were ashamed to be on welfare and therefore motivated to get off it.”

By “cards” she is of course referring to the EBT card, known as “Access” in PA, but in other states goes by the name “Independence Card” or “Families First”. EBT cards replaced food stamps in the late 90’s and allow low-income families to get everything from food to cash assistance with one swipe.

It was only early this summer that my fiancé got an earful of expletives as he heard me complaining to my health insurance about being charged $400 because I didn’t leave the hospital after a prenatal appointment to get blood drawn at my “capitated” lab. Wait, so for nine months whenever I need blood drawn (which anyone who’s been pregnant knows is a lot), I should tell my ob/gyn to hold that thought while I find a lab my insurance has assigned so I don’t go broke trying to have a baby? Or what about when I’m in Walmart choosing between whether to get “good” OJ or name brand cereal only to stand in line and watch someone pull out that green and yellow card us PA folks are all too familiar with and get Simply Orange, Cinnamon Toast Crunch AND gelato. I work every day and still can’t afford that damn Breyer’s Gelato unless it’s on sale.

But these days is there any motivation to get “off the system”? For the same asthma medication I shell out $200 for, a friend with publicly assisted health insurance gets for free. There are many days where I feel like those on welfare are the ones winning. And if the article has any truth to it, you may want to stop reading now if you still have any faith left in the American dream.

The DCClothesline article basically states that in 35 US states it pays more to accept welfare than for a college graduate to work an entry-level job. It’s based on a study done by the Cato Institute titled the “The Work vs. Welfare Trade-Off” that lists all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia. The top 5 states where it appears to be more financially beneficial to accept public assistance than work an entry level job are New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, D.C, and Hawaii with the Aloha state ranking number one with citizens receiving $60,590 a year in benefits before taxes. My own state of PA ranks #19 with citizens pulling in almost $30,000 before taxes in public assistance. The article states that, “Welfare pays and pays well” as in most states recipients end up making more than retail clerks and fast food employees. It also goes on to post the blame on The President of course and marks that now more than ever there are more underemployed or unemployed college grads who leave school with degrees only to live with their parents, the $17 trillion dollar deficit and overwhelming amounts of unpaid school debt. Author Dave Hodges seems to be in defense of hard-working young people but advises them to stop getting wasted on the Obama Kool-Aid (disregard the racist undertones for a minute).

What bothers me more than who Hodges chooses to blame for the current financial imbalance of the country, is the fact that although I’m no economist, the numbers make sense.  I’ve been that college grad living at home with my parents making minimum wage. The closest I’ve come to using public assistance is a health program I enrolled in during a few years when I had no insurance just to make sure I could continue to get birth control. Even then I was counting down the days until I got a real job with benefits where I didn’t have to wait for hours in a clinic to be seen or switch birth controls whenever the government decided they didn’t want to include my preferred method in their program. But even now with feeling like I’ve been lucky enough to catch a crumb off that good old apple pie that is the American Dream, there are times when I feel like I was better off with government health insurance when I look at what I pay in co-pays and the running around I have to do for referrals.

Trust me, I’m sure that welfare isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.  In the very limited exposure I’ve had witnessing family and friends living off the system, I hear the stories of repeatedly reporting every damn dime you come across to some government employee just so you can keep your childcare, or having some stranger inspect your house to make sure you don’t have any unaccounted guests or any sign of “luxury” since you’re living off the working publics’ dime.  And in theory, you can’t whip out your EBT card to pay for the extras like alcohol or cigarettes (although if you ever lived in the hood, you know there are all kinds of creative ways to get around that). At the end of the day I’m all for public assistance for those who truly need it, but I can’t help but wonder if that “Access Card” grants access to everything I work so hard for and more. What’s the motivation for people to seek employment and not rely on the system when they can have the lifestyle of the working poor and barely above struggling without the actual work?

I think we’ve all woken up from the American Dream to realize that in these days and times, there are certain lifestyles that will have to remain in our heads. But I would still love to walk into a classroom and feel confident in the fact that I can tell my students that hard work pays off and not only can they be anything they want to, but they SHOULD want to be anything they want to. Unfortunately that’s a hard sell when it appears that some of them are living better than me every 1st and 15th.

Do you believe that it pays more to live off welfare than work? Do you think people are less motivated to get off public assistance than in the past?

Toya Sharee is a community health educator and parenting education coordinator who has a  passion for helping  young women build their self-esteem and make well-informed choices about their sexual health.  She also advocates for women’s reproductive rights and blogs about  everything from beauty to love and relationships. Follow her on Twitter @TheTrueTSharee or visit her blog, Bullets and Blessings.


“Rich Folks Ripping Off The System”: Wealthy Couple Steals $167,000 In Welfare Benefits

March 25th, 2014 - By Kimberly Gedeon
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A wealthy couple with $3 million in the bank, a yacht, and a luxurious home near Lake Minnetoka raked in $167,000 in social safety net benefits for six years! The authorities have finally caught up to the twosome’s schemes and they are being charged with welfare fraud, Raw Story reports.

Benefit employees were deceived and led to believe that Andrea and Colin Chisholm were unemployed and had as little as $80 to their name. So they had no choice but to live in Andrea’s mother’s home with their son in south Minneapolis.

Lies, all lies.

When filing out their welfare forms, the Chisholms conveniently forgot to mention their $1.2 million yacht and their $1.6 million home near Lake Minnetoka. In fact, Colin, 62, is reportedly a Scottish aristocrat who’s currently a broadcasting executive for his Miami-based satellite TV company. Colin has allegedly told investors that he’s got assets worth $97 million.

His wife, 54-year-old Andrea, helped run the Chisholm’s business of breeding pedigreed Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.

Still, “Lord and Lady Chisholm” — as Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman calls them — managed to reel in $167,420 from federal assistance programs for medical claims and food stamps between 2005 and 2012. The birth of the couple’s son in 2007 cost Minnesota $22,000 in hospital bills!

“These were rich folks ripping off the system,” said Freeman at a news conference last Friday. “I will make sure they do hard time.”

Fraud investigators got suspicious after they discovered that the couple had a lakeview home and spent $60,000 of their medical claims on spas and massages.

“It’s outrageous,” Freeman said. “You hear of people getting public assistance when they’re having a hard time in their lives and getting it back together. And then you see this.” You also hear a lot of people accusing the poor of fraud, but ahem…

The Minnesota couple hid their wealth from authorities by funneling hundreds of thousands of dollars to Andrea’s grandmother. Their welfare checks stopped pouring in on March 2012 when the duo couldn’t explain how they could afford to pay their rent, and other expenses, while being unemployed.

The con artists, if convicted, could face 20 years in jail along with a $100,000 fine. There is one problem though — the couple is nowhere to be found!

The Chisholms have fled; they’ve vacated their home and pulled their son out of school. The only lead that authorities have, to our knowledge, is that “they’ve gone somewhere warm, if not out of the country entirely,” Raw Story concludes.

Selita Ebanks Gets Real About Her Poor Upbringing: ‘My Mother Relied On Food Stamps And The Food Pantry’

May 6th, 2013 - By Jazmine Denise Rogers
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Source: WENN

Source: WENN

Former Victoria’s Secret model Selita Ebanks’ life is the epitome of a rags to riches story. The 30-year-old Cayman Islands native isn’t ashamed to tell her story either. During the Food Banks’ Can Do Awards, Ebanks chatted it up with the NY Post, revealing that when she was a child, her mother heavily relied on charity and government assistance to ensure that she and her seven brothers were fed.

“My mother relied on food stamps and the food pantry so we never went hungry. There’s no shame when you have children and you want to provide for them,” the 5’9 beauty revealed.

She went on to marvel at her mother’s ability to put her pride aside for the sake of her children.

“It says something about a woman that has no ego when it comes to her children. She did anything possible.”

“She was working the system to make sure we had everything. Sometimes we had two or three turkeys at Thanksgiving, and she would give them to our neighbors that weren’t qualified for the program.”

Selita’s mom is now able to enjoy the finer things in life. She’s retired and lives in Georgia.

“Now she is living with her feet up on the couch, living every day,” Selita expressed.

It’s sometimes easy to look at a successful person and think that they’ve always had it good, without considering that they probably had to struggle to get where they are. It’s great that Selita hasn’t forgotten where she came from and continues to give back.

Drug Dealer Allegedly Uses Welfare EBT Card to Post Bail

April 12th, 2012 - By MN Editor
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For the folks that are abusing the system … STOP IT!

There are so many people starving and homeless in America that really need the help from social programs funded by the federal and state governments and even more Republicans ready to cut all programs for the actions of a few.

All they need is excuses like folks using the money on their EBT cards to buy drugs and cigarettes. But, one dude takes it even further than that.

For the complete story, visit


More on Madame Noire!

Does Welfare Ruin Relationships?

September 15th, 2011 - By TheEditor
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(Huffington Post) — It probably comes as no surprise that money troubles often lead to marital strife. But could receiving government assistance such as food stamps, Medicaid or welfare do further harm to your marriage?  The answer is yes–and in a big way, according to Dr. David Schramm, a researcher and professor at the University of Missouri.  In a study released earlier this month, Dr. Schramm found that, among couples in the same income bracket, those receiving government assistance experience lower rates of positive bonding, commitment to their spouses and overall satisfaction in their marriages. They are also more prone to divorce, negative interaction and feeling trapped in their marriages.

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Drug War Meddles With Welfare

August 30th, 2011 - By TheEditor
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(Time) — Under a new Florida law, people applying for welfare have to take a drug test at their own expense. If they pass, they are eligible for benefits and the state reimburses them for the test. If they fail, they are denied welfare for a year, until they take another test. Mandatory drug testing for welfare applicants is becoming a popular idea across the U.S. Many states — including Alabama, Kentucky, Oklahoma and Louisiana — are considering adopting laws like Florida’s. At the federal level, Senator David Vitter, a Louisiana Republican, has introduced the Drug Free Families Act of 2011, which would require all 50 states to drug-test welfare applicants.  And the focus isn’t even limited to welfare. In July, Indiana adopted drug tests for participants in a state job-training program. An Ohio state senator, Tim Grendell, recently said he plans to introduce a bill to require the unemployed to take a drug test before they receive unemployment benefits.

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The New Face of Poverty Doesn’t Jive With The Welfare Queen Meme

August 29th, 2011 - By TheEditor
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"charing ball"Some of you all may have seen that EBT (It’s Free Swipe your EBT) song, which has been going viral over the last week, right. All have to say on that one is that there is a special type of ignorant, which thinks it’s okay to mock people, who rely on public assistance for their daily assistance. Most particularly now since the right wing is doing everything in its power to strip away the very safety nets for the working class, the poor and even the middle class (when they need them), which has gotten folks through some very tough times.

For many folks, the stigmatization of public assistance continues with uninformed claims about welfare and its recipients in this country. Folks may see, read or hear about some extreme case of public assistance abuse and believe that it applies to the 45 million people, or 12 percent of U.S population, who use the plastic cards for staples like milk, bread and cheese. Few will actually sit and mull over the fact that food stamp usage is now at record highs and climbing every month. This program now helps feed one in eight Americans and one in four children.

Likewise, this new face of poverty in America includes more than the Tawanqie and the Shanifas of the world; the new face of poverty, mostly the result of the economic crisis and the ever weakening economy, also includes the married couples, struggling college students, the newly jobless, who have seen their unemployment benefits lapse, and workers whose slender wages leave them making the hard choice between rent and food. And still, the Republicans and Democrats who nearly eliminated welfare in the 1980s, under Ronald Reagan and again through the 90s, under Bill Clinton, through ineffective welfare reform acts, have not only unfairly targeted these safety nets but basically are in denial of the very policies and structural causes that have contributed to the need for welfare and other public assistance in the first place.

Policies including tax cuts for the rich and corporations, who send jobs overseas more than they provide employment for Americans here at home. Common place policies include providing billions in property tax breaks, free land and other kind of subsidies to attract or retain big box businesses, which do more to exploit workers than they do to provide livable and sustainable wages.  And let us not forget the trillions in bailout money, including an array of other financial programs, which provided support to banks, car companies and now chicken factory farmers, who gave us little to no assurance that they will not engage in the very same practices, which caused the economic crisis to begin with.

But yet, with the economy in the condition it is in, we only want to discuss whether or not Latoya is smoking weed in her Section 8 approved apartment or has “schemed” her way into buying a $5 sandwich from Subways with her EBT card.

Last week marked the 15th anniversary of welfare reform, signed into law by President Bill Clinton.  The goal of the reform was to move struggling Americans into job training and employment (also known as welfare to work). After the economy weakened, states are continuing to push people off welfare, even while fewer and fewer jobs are being created.   Likewise, housing foreclosure has contributed to record levels of homelessness in some places, food cupboards nationwide are struggling for funding and 15 percent of American households in general are experiencing “food insecurity” at some point.  Meanwhile our elected leaders including Wisconsin Republican Paul Ryan are pushing budget proposals for deep cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, and even more fundamental changes to how it is administered, particularly turning SNAP into a block grant program, which would allow individual states to set the criteria and stipulations for how the money would be distributed.

SO yeah, with most Americans living about a paycheck and a half away from financial ruin, I find it distasteful, to say the least, to mock through song the very safety net programs, which could mean the difference between hunger, homelessness and even death.  And quite frankly, I have grown weary of this aspirational mindset, which seems to sings praises of the rich while making scapegoats of the working poor. I’m sayin’, when did genuine concern over the welfare over our own citizens become a negative trait?

Charing Ball is the author of the blog People, Places & Things.

Mandatory Drug Testing for the Poor

July 21st, 2011 - By TheEditor
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(Washington Informer) — Republican Florida Governor Rick Scott recently signed into law a bill requiring adults applying for temporary cash assistance to undergo drug screening. His rationale is to increase personal accountability and prevent Florida’s tax dollars from subsidizing drug addiction, while still providing for needy children. Parents failing the required drug test may designate another individual to receive the benefits on behalf of the children.  “While there are certainly legitimate needs for public assistance, it is unfair for Florida taxpayers to subsidize drug addiction,” Governor Scott said. “This new law will encourage personal accountability and will help to prevent the misuse of tax dollars.  However, this new bill flies in the face of research and evidence that proves such bills are ineffective and wasteful.

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Growing Trend to Link Public Benefits and Drug Tests

April 18th, 2011 - By TheEditor
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(USA Today) — South Carolina state Sen. Harvey Peeler was at a Chamber of Commerce meeting in January when the human resources director of one of the area’s major employers, textile manufacturer Hamrick Mills, told him the company was having trouble hiring some people from the unemployment rolls.  “They said they had potential employees that would come and apply and couldn’t pass the drug test,” Peeler says.  Peeler, a Republican who says he heard similar stories from other employers, introduced a bill Feb. 9 that would suspend unemployment checks to people who fail a drug test they must take to get a job.

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State Has Just Weeks to Use or Lose $7.6 Million

August 17th, 2010 - By TheEditor
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(AJC) — Georgia officials didn’t apply for federal stimulus funding to help struggling low-income families keep their homes until more than a year after Congress made the money available through the Recovery Act.

Now they are scrambling to distribute about $7.6 million of this aid before a federal Sept. 30 deadline. Any stimulus money left unspent by that deadline is supposed to go back to the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families fund.

Citizens Against Government Waste says spending so much federal taxpayer money that quickly in Georgia is a recipe for fraud. And an official from a nonprofit agency working with the program said officials have caught applicants colluding with landlords and submitting fake invoices for the aid.

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