Roughly 4,000 deceased people in the state of Louisiana received $1.3 million in food stamps between July 1, 2009 and June 30, 2013 from the state. Most of the deceased individuals who fraudulently received food stamps from the state kept receiving them four or more months after their death.
To be exact, 3,938 deceased individuals received food stamps over the four-year time period that was analyzed by the legislative auditor. Overall, the state spent $1.08 billion on the sleek Louisiana Purchase food stamp system.
For those individuals who continued to receive benefits a month after their death, the state spent $272,951. For two months, that number fell to $260,089. For three months, it dipped to $201,258. However, for 4 or more months, the state spent $556,259 on benefits going to deceased individuals. That is a total of exactly $1,290,557 spent on benefits benefiting Louisianans who have already passed.
The Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) said that “it would be difficult to prevent all improper spending in the first month after death because of the amount of time it takes for a death record to become available.”
The audit also blames the fact that “there is no federal program rule that allows DCFS to expunge the benefits it loaded onto a card until the benefits have been on the card for one year. This could lead to misspending by others after the participant’s death.”
DCFS said the likelihood of recovering the funds is very low because they do not know who spent the funds and retailers usually only maintain surveillance videos for a very short period of time. DCFS said it does plan to take all possible steps, though it does not say how, to identify the individuals who fraudulently spent the food stamp benefits.