Out-of-state welfare money being used around Orlando attractions

Posted Tuesday, November 8, 2011 9:32 AM | Contributed by Jeff

Missouri welfare dollars are being withdrawn at places like Sea World and the Magical Midway Amusement Park in Orlando, Florida. News 4 requested ATM data from the Missouri Department of Social Services covering a one year period beginning on September 1, 2010.

Read more and see video from KMOV/St. Louis.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011 9:32 AM
Jeff's avatar

There you have it. Now we know why Orlando attendance hasn't declined during the recession!


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Tuesday, November 8, 2011 10:10 AM
Jerry's avatar

Sadly we only know a piece of the story.

For a solution I'm not sure you can fully inhibit CC transactions on everything, as sometimes a parent company is located in another locale etc. Granted the Magic Kingdom is not a preferred supplier of Meat, Milk and Cheese though.

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Tuesday, November 8, 2011 10:42 AM
Jeff's avatar

I still can't believe that some states use ATM cards to distribute welfare cash. States that use stamps do so because you can't buy smokes, airfare or a churro at Disney World with them.


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Tuesday, November 8, 2011 10:52 AM
Tekwardo's avatar

No states use stamps anymore and havent for years. You cant even redeem stamps anymore. And this isn't someone buying smokes on food stamps, the card won't let you, this is someone spending their actual welfare check, which they can receive on either a debit card or thru direct deposit, so a card isn't going to stop how they spend the money regardless.

Last edited by Tekwardo, Tuesday, November 8, 2011 10:53 AM

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Tuesday, November 8, 2011 12:44 PM
Jeff's avatar

Stamps, checks, whatever... some states do use something that can't simply be spent any way you'd like.


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Tuesday, November 8, 2011 1:48 PM
Tekwardo's avatar

No Jeff, they don't. I did that as a job for 7 years.

These people are spending their TANF monies, which is actual cash given out. No state in the US uses any type of stamp method anymore, those were phased out in the early 2000s.

TANF money can be used for anything you want. That's what it is. Money. Cash. A welfare check.

"Food stamps" which no longer exist, but come as Electronic Benefits Transfer funds, are totally different in that they can only be used for approved food purchases. EBT cards have the ability to distribute the Food funds (which can only be used for food) and TANF funds (Which were mentioned in this article) which can be used by anyone.

All states in the US use this setup now. Federal policy dictates it.

You can't dictate how TANF funds are spent because in order to get that benefit, you have to participate in a 'welfare to work' program, thus you'r being paid for your time.

That's how it works, and yes, you can spend it any way you like. In any state.

The EBT cards actually got rid of a lot of the fraud for food stamps and TANF because any worker can go in and see where their clients are spending their stuff and what they're spending them on. The US Government stopped support for stamps in 2008. They're now worthless. I know. I was doing it at that time.

Last edited by Tekwardo, Tuesday, November 8, 2011 1:56 PM

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Tuesday, November 8, 2011 1:53 PM

No more drug testing for welfare checks. Just check to see if they have churros or Orville Reddenbacker popcorn in their systems. Maybe throw a turkey leg test at 'em too.

Last edited by wahoo skipper, Tuesday, November 8, 2011 1:54 PM
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Tuesday, November 8, 2011 2:02 PM
Jeff's avatar

Dude, I lived in Washington, where I saw the checks, and indications in the grocery store about what you could spend them on. Are you really suggesting that I didn't see what I saw?


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Tuesday, November 8, 2011 2:05 PM
Tekwardo's avatar

Those are SNAP benefits you saw the sign for! Not TANF benefits! Totally different! You can use TANF CASH benefits on anything you like! Gas, cigs, airline tickets, sea world, whatever.

Are you telling me that I did the job for almost a decade and don't have a clue? SNAP (Food Stamp) Benefits are only used for food, which I mentioned, and that's what you saw a sign for in a GROCERY store.

TANF is a CASH benefit which is on the same card and can be used for whatever you want at Walmart, Target, GAP, Disneyworld, wherever. That's how it works. If you'd like a lesson on TANF vs. SNAP, by all means, google it. You saw what SNAP benefits can be used for.

This article SPECIFICALLY mentioned these people were using TANF (Welfare) benefits. It's NOT The same dude.

And regardless, NO STATES use stamps. They haven't been valid since 2008. That was a federal mandate. Period.

Last edited by Tekwardo, Tuesday, November 8, 2011 2:06 PM

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Tuesday, November 8, 2011 2:30 PM
Jeff's avatar

I'm telling you that your expertise is irrelevant to my point. I don't care what the program is. You're missing the point or you just don't care that I'm making it. My point is that giving people cash money is a bad idea.


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Tuesday, November 8, 2011 3:03 PM
Tekwardo's avatar

I get your 'point'. You don't agree with giving people cash. Then how are they supposed to buy cloths, gas, things not covered by food stamps without cash benefits? Do you know anything about the TANF program?

People have to go to an activity or 'job' that they're placed in, and they're paid for their time. It's to help them learn to be self sufficient.

You said "States that use stamps do so because you can't buy smokes, airfare or a churro at Disney World with them" and "some states do use something that can't simply be spent any way you'd like."

That was an incorrect statement that I was trying to correct. And you wanted to argue that I was wrong when I'm most certainly not.

And my expertise is relevant. I've went thru nearly a decade of training to understand WHY people are given cash via direct deposit, a check, or EBT card. It's called "temporary" assistance for "Needy" families. It's a cash assistance. You may not agree with it, but when you're trying to take care of a family, you lose your job, your unemployment runs out, and you're struggling to get by, then mayhaps you'll understand the benefits then.

That some people are using their benefits to go to Disneyland are irrelevant to the fact that Cash Benefits on an EBT card have cut down a lot on fraud over the last 10 years that the cards have been available.

Fraud happens, but the needs of the majority needing the assistance being met are greater than the amount of fraud that goes on.


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Tuesday, November 8, 2011 3:12 PM

Fraud is cut down because instead of having to sell their foodstamps to buy cigarettes and lotto tickets, they are able to just take cash out to buy them.

It didn't eliminate the fraud, just made it acceptable by the rules.

If clothes are a necessary purchase (and I'm not arguing they aren't) then make the cards valid at Goodwill and other such retailers.

But I can guarantee, almost no one was selling their food stamps for cash to buy clothes.


John
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Tuesday, November 8, 2011 3:16 PM
Tekwardo's avatar

It isn't fraud. They'r working for actual cash benefits that can be spent on whatever they want. Just because some people are being irresponsible and going to Disneyworld with those benefits doesn't mean it's fraud. Just being irresponsible.

That's why every program in every state is called some variation of Welfare to Work. Emphasis on the work.


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Tuesday, November 8, 2011 3:22 PM
Jerry's avatar

Juggalotus said:
If clothes are a necessary purchase (and I'm not arguing they aren't) then make the cards valid at Goodwill and other such retailers.

But I can guarantee, almost no one was selling their food stamps for cash to buy clothes.

I think this is shortsighted - goodwill? Have you seen what kind of clothes you can buy there? Would you like to go to school wearing Goodwill clothes and get chastised by your classmates solely because your parents are down on their luck, and can't take you shopping anywhere else?

And god forbid your school requires UNIFORMS - I don't think you will find those at Goodwill....

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Tuesday, November 8, 2011 3:25 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

Juggalotus said:
Fraud is cut down because instead of having to sell their foodstamps to buy cigarettes and lotto tickets, they are able to just take cash out to buy them.

It didn't eliminate the fraud, just made it acceptable by the rules.

Tekwardo said:
It isn't fraud.

Exactly. Food assistance and cash assistance are two different things.

This seems to be the source of confusion here. Selling your food benefits and using that cash for something else - anything else - is fraud.

Using your cash assistance for anything is what that assistance is for - to purchase things you need.

With that said, the twist - the 'groan moment' - in this story comes at the fact that people who are considered bad enough off to need help are using that help to go to Orlando theme parks. To me it's more commentary on expectations in this country than anything, but that's a different conversation.


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Tuesday, November 8, 2011 3:32 PM
Jeff's avatar

Tekwardo said:
I get your 'point'. You don't agree with giving people cash. Then how are they supposed to buy cloths, gas, things not covered by food stamps without cash benefits? Do you know anything about the TANF program?

Did you miss the part about me not caring about what programs are in place, or is it just more selective listening? I'm saying you do the same thing you do for food, and place restrictions on what you can buy. The implementation and current law in unimportant to me with regard to what I believe.


Jeff - Webmaster/Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Twitter - Video

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Tuesday, November 8, 2011 4:01 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

Jerry said:
I think this is shortsighted - goodwill? Have you seen what kind of clothes you can buy there? Would you like to go to school wearing Goodwill clothes and get chastised by your classmates solely because your parents are down on their luck, and can't take you shopping anywhere else?

And god forbid your school requires UNIFORMS - I don't think you will find those at Goodwill....

1. Dude. Goodwill is awesome. I know too many upper-middle-class teenage girls (my own included) who love browsing the collections at Goodwill because you can get tons of funky stuff on the super-cheap.

2. Actually, uniforms are a pretty good bet because once you grow out of them, they really have no use. They often get donated. And given the local exchange nature of the stores, you're pretty much going to find the required uniform for your local schools.

3. Another great place - the 'resell' clothing stores that pay for gently used clothes and resell them. Great place to find clothing - especially school uniforms - on the (relatively) cheap. Plato's Closet is one of the busiest stores in our neck of the woods and the parking lot is usually filled with Mercedes, Lexuses and Beemers.

The 'Goodwill stigma' is non-existent in our circles.


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Tuesday, November 8, 2011 4:03 PM
Pagoda Gift Shop's avatar

I think the link to the story might be dead.

Do they track all the funds which are given out using TANF? Even though people can spend it on whatever they want, it would seem wise to track it anyway so you know what they are spending it on.

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Tuesday, November 8, 2011 4:07 PM
Tekwardo's avatar

I'm saying you do the same thing you do for food, and place restrictions on what you can buy.

...Which glosses over your selective listening. Read what Gonch wrote.

Cash Benefits are given out to be used for whatever someone wants to use them for. It's not fraud, it's not wrong, it's not anyone's business what the money is being spent on. Because they in a sense 'earned' that money by completing their activities (Which include things like janitorial work, classes on self sufficiency, and a host of other things). The government doesn't feel they should regulate how that money is spent.

Take Unemployment. You can spend it on what you like. Doesn't mean that spending it on Sea World is irresponsible, but that doesn't mean you can't or even shouldn't be allowed to do it.

Besides, and this came straight from the Feds during my time working in these programs, the amount of time and money it would take to implement a system you suggest, and policing people just because someone doesn't think they should spend their measly $347 a month on Sea World would cost far more than just letting them spend their money at Sea World. Because after they've used their 60 months of TANF benefits, they can no longer receive it in any state in the nation.


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