Amy Winn

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Has collecting SSI and receiving education financial aid become the new form of welfare? Has welfare reform just led to new ways to cheat?

I occasionally enjoy watching some of the small claims court shows including Judge Judy and Judge Milian of The Peoples Court.

These judges have a routine of questioning the litigants with regard to their income, marital status, number of children, criminal record and level of education. The answers are so informative as to the state of our young adults’ attitudes with regard to work ethic, sense of entitlement, lack of personal accountability for their lazy behavior and refusal to take responsibility for supporting themselves and the children that they brought into this world.

The litigants are often on section 8, which provides a home that they choose at the expense of the tax payers. Another frequent benefit provides a debit card giving access to cash at an ATM, as well as payment for their groceries. Medicaid is also provided at no cost and prescriptions are free. Some even get free cell phones.

Many cases reveal the litigants own late model vehicles with large payments, no insurance and a suspended license. Many appear wearing designer clothing, expensive handbags and flashy jewelry which seam odd for someone who supposedly has nothing. I have seen them sue for their 70” plasma tv, fur coats, designers bags, gold chains, laptops, I phones, x boxes and other high end items.

When questioned how they obtained these expensive items, I have heard time and time again that they receive benefits from the government in the form of SSI for their children who have been labeled with some form of disability. In addition, many claim that they receive financial aid from the government for attending school. This aid often includes a laptop, as well as a monthly stipend for living expenses.

It appears clear that labeling children to claim SSI benefits as well as applying for financial aid under the premise of taking a few classes have become the new form of living off the system and getting a free ride on the tax payer’s dime. Are these benefits the new free ride?

  • May 12 2014: There will always be abusers in any system. I hope you admit that there is a real need for these programs and are simply raging against the abuse that occurs. For every welfare mom you see remember that the Rich are stealing billions. If you condem the Individual Welfare then you must also condem the Corporate Welfare, otherwise you're just a hypocrite.

    I'm glad you watch Judge Judy, because until you have an answer for the sterotypes you see on that show you will not have an answer to the problems we face. When you see the next specimen, please try to come up with a plan that will end his/her cheating. Because unless you've got a plan for these people you do not have any answer.

    I'm actually open to ANY plan, as long as you're honest about it. Shall we agree to educate their children through college in the hopes of breaking the cycle? Demand that business hire a certain percentage of former welfare reciepients? Sell them into slavery? Take away the children and raise them in govt orphanages? Step over the bodies as they starve to death in the streets? Round up everyone with less than $1000 in assets and shoot them? Put them in jail at a cost of $50,000 per year? Confiscate all wealth and give it to them? Bring back Debtor's Prison? Force everyone who does not have a job onto reservations and Reeducation Camps? Run 'Hunger Games' as a reality TV show and charge pay-per-view as they kill each other off for a donut? Or just wait for the Revolution and shoot the starving hordes?

    Yes, humans cause corruption and abuse. It should be minimized wherever possible. Individuals should be punished. What I want is a solution for Laticia Cammacho Abdullah-Johnson, 23, single (well, all babydaddies in jail), 5 kids, 5 tatoos, no job, no education, no skills other than popping out babies. Virgo. Prospects for the future: Trying out for American Idol after winning lottery.

    Fix her problem and you've got a plan to fix all of it. Otherwise you got nothing.
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      May 13 2014: Hi Martin, I agree that these systems were set up with the best of intention and there are people that have a genuine need for them. When the welfare became a free ride, a plan of reform was attempted wherein the recipients were required to attend job seeking seminars, resume preparation training and submit proof that they have made efforts to seek employment. A form listing the applications that they filled out was also required to continue receiving their benefits. Job training was provided free of charge as well as day care reimbursement as incentive to work. The recipients of welfare were furious that they were now required to actually do something in order to receive their benefits, and if they failed to adhere to these requirements, their benefits would be discontinued.

      Now, to make a long story short, rather than look for a job, they began to research other options as an alternative way to live off the system. SSI and student aid was the result.

      You asked for my plan -
      It would work like this....if I worked full time and needed day care, someone who was out of work and receiving these section 8 benefits from my tax dollar would provide the daycare and receive a voucher. Like wise for mowing the lawn, cleaning the house and lots of other things that I would have to pay someone to do, after my paycheck is already chopped up by taxes.

      When they did work, they would be paid with vouchers, and each month they would submit the vouchers and receive as much as they earned.

      The free ride would come to an end. I wrote to several politicians outlining this plan.
      Do you want to know what the response was to my letters?...........I was told it sounded too much like slavery!!! Imagine that, actually asking someone to get off their ass and work for their check being referred to as slavery. Most just call it a job. I call it earning your keep. But the bottom line is, as long as there are lazy people, they will find a way to use the system to avoid working.
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      May 14 2014: Martin,
      Well Addressed. There seems to be a number of people who take advantage to gain wealth. We have the welfare cheaters and the crony capitalists A lot has been said about both. but it seems the wealthy rip off artists get more bad press the welfare cheats. Amy has brought this light. When we look at the numbers of dollars involved it appears that welfare fraud is more costly then the higher end crowd.
      There has always been people in a bad financial situation. People who genuinely need help. Most of our current abuse came to be when the government.... the federal government got involved in a multitude of programs to help. Huge bureaucracies were formed, great amounts of money appropriated, almost no oversight and a fault in human nature to take what you want if the source is faceless.
      How do you fix it?
      Does the federal bureaucracy want too? Do the politicians who approve the appropriations want too? Considering welfare recipients are a voting block? People who challenge the system are seen as cretans who hate children?
      I am at a loss.
  • May 15 2014: I'm offended - NO ONE has ever accused me of 'looking at the bright side' before. ;)

    I've always felt that the low voter turnout is an indication that people are relatively content. High voter turnout is a warning sign just like high blood pressure. Our rulers know that, so are comfortable with pushing their agenda because we're not spitting it back in their faces yet. So get out the vote, honestly for either side, just so the rulers are reminded of who they work for. Meanwhile, putting a new rope on the gillotine is simply prudent mainteneace, don't you think?
  • May 15 2014: The 'have more = take more' fear you articulated is one of the 'hard choices' I was talking about. You're absolutely right that others will try new ways to cheat. Until we as a people are willing to force unpleasant solutions on the Takers the trend will continue. Until we as a people are willing to accept that the current trends will result in revolution we won't try to change. I disagree with your statement that we are becoming more tolerant towards this behaviour - I counter that groups like the Tea Party, Al Gore's success, Radical Islam, and Occupy Wall Street are signs that the limits have been reached. We're pushing back against many of the things that have become 'status quo', barely in time in my opinion.
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      May 15 2014: Martin, Your way of looking at the bright side is wonderfully encouraging. I hope with all my heart that you are right. But in the meantime, I will forge ahead to try to get this message out so that the idea of living off of the system will once again be a choice that is but only a last resort. Best to you.
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        May 17 2014: I would love to think that things are changing and "we" are pushing back as Martin said ... but sadly I can find no evidence to support that.

        Wilson started the ball rolling .. FDR, Elenore (a card carying communist), Teddy, and a host of others kept the push alive ... Liberal, progressive, socialist, communist, policies and the thought that Americans need to move beyond the principals of the founding fathers. Progressives feel that the Constitution must be overcome. To this end Wilson recommended that the preface of the Constitution (that tells of rights) should be done away with and that the government should meet all the needs of the people and that rights be based on social expediency .... essentially that the government will tell you what your rights are.

        To that end Keynesian Economics became the guiding light for the movement .... big government ... no restraints such as budgets .. and thus we arrive at the Nanny Society of generational welfare and 17 trillion dollars in debit and on the verge of a depression and recession.

        Amy, I am old enough to recall that if a setting president took advantage of a youg employee in the Oval Office in the 40's thru the 70's he would have been out of office and maybe in jail if the father didn't get to him first. Yet today Clinton is a role model.

        Little by little from Wilson on we have become programed through the educational system that the Constitution is outdated and natural law is a out of date concept.

        Little hope exists as the people just accepted that Obamacare is a tax .. and that insurance doubled or even tripled and we are finding all the lies associated. That hillary and Michele Obama have joined voices against Boca Haram .. when Hillary refused to put them on the Terrorist List and Obama refused due to political issues in a election year.

        Work ethics, morals, ethics, and pride are rare. What a shame. Your argument is correct of course .. cheating and lying are the norm. Bob
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          May 17 2014: Robert, You mentioned that you were old enough to recall basically when right was right and wrong was wrong and that is so sad. It's wonderful that you saw that it could exist, but sad that it is but a fading memory.
  • May 15 2014: Ok, so we have Fraud above the level we consider 'acceptable' or 'unavoidable'. Definately reduce that. To further the discussion, the next item is to determine what % is 'acceptable' or 'unavoidable.' This is not a moral judgement, but rather a realization of Reality. To illustrate what I mean: let's assume you've developed an absolutely perfect assembly line, where no defective parts are created and no one ever makes a mistake. You then go to sell your new widget and take a model along for demonstation purposes. Well, guess what: that sample is 'waste.' So what % is 'acceptable'?

    We then subtract the 'acceptable' waste from our theoretical fraud to find a % that should be eliminated. Once we have that number, we need to determine how much it will cost to eliminate it. The cost to eliminate it needs to be subtracted from the fraud as well, as it will be spent. THEN you can determine if it is 'worth' fixing or if the Fraud, however distasteful, has been controlled sufficiently that it is the 'best' we can do.

    We need a bi-partisan effort along these lines to make progress. The extreme elements who will accept NO compromise, expect perfect results or insist on saving everyone need to be quieted in favor of a workable consensus. How to do that is the question. How do you convince a Tea Partier that is 'ok' to have x% of their tax money wasted? How do you convince a Liberal Professor that some people are not worth saving? How do you convince the Rich they have enough money? How do you convince the poor sinlgle mom that she should not have more kids until she is financially stable? How do you convince a Capitalist to care about their workers? How do you prevent Politicians from being corrupt or to care about anything other than being reelected?

    We THINK we are civilized, that revolutions are a thing of the past. I'm saying we're not Enlightened yet. I fear our society will break. Make hard choices NOW, while a choice remains. VOTE 2014
  • May 15 2014: As far as SS is concerned, all they have to do is remove the cap on contributions and it will be solvent forever. Currently you only pay SS taxes on the first 100k+ or so in income. Above that you pay nothing. Fix it so all income is taxed for SS, and you don't run out of money. Those making more than 100+k will be fine in retirement anyway, so they should contribute to make a more stable society.

    'Disabled' children, kids of generational welfare reciepients and those who believe they are entitled or that manual labor is beneath them - those people definately have a 'label' that will follow them through life. That's why I started this discussion with the need for the poor mother of 5 stereotype. THOSE are the people that need a solution, or we will be paying for them for the rest of their lives. The current PC atmosphere prevents the draconian measures that will be needed. In Ancient Rome crippled children were left on the hills of Rome to die. Americans can't stomach solutions of that nature. I submit that either we shut up and pay for them, or they must be stripped of rights and forced into solutions they would not choose on their own. Neither is a preferred solution, but that's all I know that will 'work.'

    This is the age-old question of Guns or Butter at work. Spend too much on Butter for your people and you will be conquered. Spend too much on Guns and your people starve. Both sides always want more. Where is the balance point? The balance point for OUR society, as every one is different? I don't know, but it seems like we've been on a Guns kick for 70 years. Time for the pendelum to swing back, for the Rich to pay more, for the MIC to be dismantled. Because if the pendelum doesn't swing. it will the the gillotine falling instead.
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      May 15 2014: Martin, You make some wonderful points. However, when you say remove the cap on SS contributions, all of this extra money will come from the same people that already contribute, and the people that don't contribute will still take, and take, and now there be more to take, and the lawyers will smell that money a mile away. So, new "conditions" will suddenly appear that will be brought to court in an effort to be determined as qualification for benefits, and even more kids who have lots of energy (ADD), that already receive benefits will be joined by kids with eating disorders, biting their finger nails, and having nightmares, since there is this extra money in the pot. The fact that there is concern for the fund running dry may be the one deterrent for lawyers and judges to think twice before making a decision on who gets a check.

      I completely understand that there are lots of kids who are being raised by parents who do not believe that they were put on this earth to disturb dirt with a shovel, and that is not their fault. But our acceptance of this way of life is becoming more and more tolerant where in past generations, if you didn't work, you didn't eat. We are lowing our standard to allow for lazy takers to both live off of the workers as well as bring up a new generation of more of the same.

      I also agree that it is time for the pendulum to swing back, but can we get it to go the other direction?

      Just read the second part of your statement with all of the "how do we" questions. The answer is we somehow ran this off in a ditch, so we need to pull it out. My parents were 19 when they married and had 4 children in 8 years. Never got a penny of welfare. My dad worked his but off driving a cab and then purchased the cab and started his own taxi service. Then came the gas crisis in the 70, and they lost it all. Still no welfare. They had to pull them selves out of the hole. That's what I learned is the way of life. Maybe that's why I am angry.
  • May 14 2014: In theory, everyone gets it, rich or poor. In practice you may wish to set income limits, but then you are right back where you started: determining if qualified.

    Pros: People who are stuck in a dead-end job might try that One Big Idea they had, creating new businesses. The jobs they vacate will be available for others to take. Easy to administrate. Reduced corruption of our politicians, as there are no pork projects. D and R both get what they want.

    Cons: Sweden (?) is rich, with offshore oil reserves, and already gave free healthcare and college education. Are we as rich? Can it be afforded? Why would the entrenched bureacracy go along with it? After all, its one thing to call for cuts in spending; its another to call for the elimination of your own job.

    Eh, who are we kidding. It will never happen, simply because it removes the power some have over others. Let's just go for Plan B: Start never-ending wars, reinstate the Draft, with lack of a job vastly increasing your chances of being drafted. Euthanize everyone over the age of xx, a la 'Logan's Run', so they don't cost our society after they are too old to work. Replace Food Stamps with Soylent Green. That ought to do it.
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      May 14 2014: Martin, Boy you had me going there for a minute. I was getting all excited about your theory and then you had to throw in that "who are we kidding" comment. Bummer!! As far as the elderly, I'm with you....after all I just had to pay $14.00 to valet park at the hospital to visit with my mother. But here is the problem with the euthanize the elderly plan - it would really screw up the cruise industry!.

      But all kidding aside, way back when our senior citizens worked for a company, they might stay with that company for 25 or 30 years. Many companies back then fully funded as much as 10% of their employees salary into a retirement plan, whereas now a worker is lucky if their employer matches even 4%. In addition, many companies offered pension and profit sharing, which provided for a more secure and comfortable retirement.

      So, with that in mind, how will all of the takers who do not contribute to the social security fund affect those that do? When parents have their children labeled as having a "disability", and then find a greedy lawyer to filed a claim for Social Security benefits, and then use those benefits as their own to avoid working, then we have a compounded problem of this group of takers receiving money from the fund, but not contributing to the fund. This will eventually reach a point where the Social Security fund dries up and those that have worked all of their lives and contributed to the fund may have no security upon retirement.

      Finally, if the parents of these "disabled" children use up the benefits that are provided for the care of these children, then what happens when the child becomes and adult, and now has this label attached to their name. Will it prevent them from getting into college? Will it prevent them from obtaining employment? Will an employer view them as being a risk if they carry a label that their parents put on them to get some free money?
  • May 14 2014: Therein lies the rub: How to determine if someone is able to work, capable of the work and willing to work. It offends our sence of Right when we feel someone is cheating us by claiming benefits. Since the determination itself is subject to fraud and abuse (Hitler felt the Jews were quite capable of working, right up to the point they died), perhaps another method is in order.

    Sweden (?) recently cut out ALL welfare, instead opting to giving every single citizen $2,880/month directly deposited into their bank account, forever. They are therfore able to eliminate programs, jobs, waste, eligibility and tracking, spendng the dollars instead on direct giveaways. Everyone gets it, it is taxable, so if you want to work you can. If not, you are considered to have sufficient support to pay for your own rent, food and medical. This idea actually had bi-partisan support in the US in the 50's and both sides have expressed an intrest today. Perhaps that would work for us?
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      May 14 2014: Martin, Love it!!!!! Now that's a system that nobody can complain about. My neighbor is on section 8 and has a bigger house than I do, but pays $12.00 per month for it. I often say if she pays $12.00, why don't we? Same goes for groceries. She just throws whatever she wants into her cart, after all, she's not paying for it, I am, and you are, and because of that I need to clip coupons and check for sales prices as my paychecks takes a huge hit with taxes. So, if she gets a check, I should get a check, and you should get a check and we would not be having this conversation. By the fact is, we also have the very wealthy, and should they get a check? Where is the cut off point?
  • May 14 2014: Amy and Mike: We really need hard numbers on the amount of 'cheating' occurring in SSI, etc. and then compare it to the amount of waste in ANY other program. Without objective numbers we don't know how large the problem is. Mike, you stated that welfare cheats are more than corporate thieves, which I don't agree with. Can we find a mutually-agreed upon source for the percentage of waste?

    Amy, there are many flaws with your proposal, even though on the surface it provides some social justice. Besides the liability issues (who'd have thunk that the welfare cheat who wanted to babysit my kids was actually a pedofile?), the work measure would have a host of issues and may cost more than just giving benefits to cheaters. I would also ask you to read about 'Company Towns' during the conquest of the West: Companies paid 'vouchers' instead of dollars, but actually owned the housing, saloons, whorehouses, general stores and everything else. So similar to your vouchers, people were paid in company script which was good only at company stores. It had the effect of being 1 step above Slavery.

    So I propose this: We get a good estimate of the actual $ lost to fraud. We find a level of waste that we consider 'acceptable' (hint: Zero Waste never happens, so don't try that pie-in-the-sky approach with me.) Then we propose a solution to 'fix' some of the waste, compare it to the cost of the fix, then decide if it is worth doing at all.

    Here's an example: Florida recently demanded drug testing of all on public assistance. Promoted by the Tea Party and fiscal conservatives, it aimed to stop spending on druggies. They tested everyone and found only 2% positive, whereas the general population tests at 10%. The resulting disqualifications saved $, but the cost of testing EXCEEDED the savings by over $200,000. It was abandoned the next year.

    My 'gut feeling' is that fraud is only 1-2% of ANY program. Reducing that fraud often costs many times more than the fraud.
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      May 14 2014: Martin, Okay, so the babysitting idea was really bad , I admit. But I have seen inmates along the highways picking up trash. Why pay any more for the cost of their incarceration than we already pay? How about when an able bodied person is receiving benefits, they are the ones picking up the trash? Now as to the Florida drug testing plan...don't you think that when this drug testing requirement became public knowledge that the druggies would detox themselves or find a way to cheat on that issues as well. These folks are lazy and takers, but trust me, they are no dummies. When they want their check bad enough, they find a way to get it - and yet they can't find their way to fill out a job application.

      Lastly, getting the "real numbers" together is highly unlikely. The reason is that the recipients of these programs do not provide honest information when applying for aid. They may have received a settlement from a law suit, and that it not required to be disclosed. They may have been given a gift or an inheritance, and again, not subject to disclosure. So, on paper it would look like they are legitimately qualified, but in fact, they may not be. You can't do the math if the numbers are lies.
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      May 14 2014: As Amy said exacting numbers are one of those to hard to do....but, there are some pretty go swags out there. Your 1 -2 % guess is a little low according to a number of IG reports.... some of our programs get to ten times that amount. Since there is little oversight in most federal programs, these estimates are based on a percentage of found fraud extrapolated.
      The finding that I have is that it is simple to for a large agency to find uses for tax funds and not have the resources to track them.... sort of a sunk cost of operations.
      The end of this charade is when people take advantage of federal programs and local governments challenge them, the feds will say to back off.... locals are interfering with federal programs...
      The are so many problems out there, they are overwhelming and when bureaucrats get overwhelmed.... well they just ignore them.
  • May 14 2014: Welfare and Dependency and Corruption exists on all parts of the social economic scale. You will not be able to see it, and understand it, by watching shows like Judge Judy and The People's Court. Watching these shows, along with the infinite number of reality shows and cooking shows is a form of dependency.
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      May 14 2014: Hi Scott, For sure corruption exists in a couple thousand other forms. Since I only had 2000 characters to work with, I used these shows as an example as I assume that most people have seen them at least once. I thought about Honey Boo Boo but did not want to get sick all over my computer. Anyway, I spent many years in the field of law and my mother is on the NJ State Legislature, so I truly have seen it and understand it all too well. Perhaps my question should have asked where the values of working hard and being proud of your success gone? Why did that message not get instilled in the character of those who feel that they deserve a free ride? This type of person sometimes works harder at not working than they would if they had a job. My message was intended to point out that this way of life has lately been accepted as the norm instead of the exception. Now, as to your comment about this being a form of dependency, god help me should I ever feel that watching any tv show is more important than spending time with family and friends. I occasionally have Judge Judy on in the kitchen while preparing dinner, as I think that she is a no-nonsense lady and love her feisty comments. And by the way, my husband loves when I learn a new recipe on TV and then prepare it for him.
      • May 19 2014: hi there. I appreciate your reply. I also appreciate your comment about hard work and pride-in-work. I resonate with that. Keep up the good life.
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          May 19 2014: Oh Scoot, thanks. I'm glad you got where I was going. It may be harder to do the right thing sometimes in this life, but I find that the sense of pride is so worth it. Love to see others that share that feeling. You keep up the good life as well!!