14% of Michigan Lottery Winners Still on Welfare

State looks to close loopholes for winners claiming benefits
By Ruth Brown,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 17, 2013 8:34 AM CDT
14% of Michigan Lottery Winners Still on Welfare
Amanda Clayton holds her ceremonial $1 million lottery check. Clayton was found dead of a possible drug overdose. She had been charged with fraud after continuing to receive $5,400 in public benefits.   (AP Photo/Michigan Lottery via Detroit News, File)

Winning the lottery isn't necessarily the golden ticket many believe: 3,544 Michigan lottery winners last year received—or lived with someone who received—public assistance, the AP reports. It's perhaps not as egregious as it sounds; on average, those people won about $6,800, which is hardly a life-changing windfall. But the state certainly has a history with this problem: Last year, 25-year-old Amanda Clayton made headlines when she was charged with fraud for receiving $5,475 in benefits despite winning $1 million in the Michigan lottery. She later died of a suspected drug overdose. The state now tracks all winners of $1,000 or more who receive assistance.

The state Department of Human Services says there actually isn't much it can do about many of these cases, due to loopholes in the way eligibility is determined. In one case, the children of a man who recently won $125,000 are still able to claim food stamps so long as they buy and prepare their food separately. But a spokesperson for the Michigan League for Public Policy questioned whether addressing this issue was really a productive use of government time and resources: "The cases that seem to be driving this—they're extremely unusual and rare," she said. "How much have we been spending to get to a few bad apples?" (More lottery stories.)

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