Lottery Winners Collecting Welfare?! Is the System Really This Broken?

moneyIt's always fun to play the "what would you do if you won the lottery?" game. Some of us would buy a big house; some of us would invest it wisely; some of us would go on a vacation -- permanently. But how many of us would continue collecting welfare if we won the lottery? Apparently, a fair amount! Turns out, 14 percent of lottery winners in Michigan still receive public assistance. Some of these cases are people who still need the extra money, due to only winning a small amount (around $7,000 or so). But a select few have actually won big, and they're still collecting. Welcome to America!


Most of us know the story of Amanda Clayton, the mom in Michigan who won $1 million and continued collected $200 a month in food stamps. She sadly has since died, but it was collectively frowned upon that someone would have the audacity to do such a thing when there are people out there who are really struggling. (Her comment about owning two homes didn't help matters either.) But Amanda's not the only one. In another instance in Michigan, it was discovered that the children of a man who recently won $125,000 are still able to claim food stamps, as they buy and prepare their food separately. The AP reported that 3,544 Michigan lottery winners last year received -- or lived with someone who received -- public assistance. But again, most of these winnings were relatively small windfalls.

But for the people who win a decent amount of cash -- is it right to keep collecting? No. But if the government keeps sending them money, do you think they're going to phone up and say, "Hey, about this money you're giving me? Can you stop it?"? Probably not. So, should the government change its policy?

My knee-jerk reaction was, "Yes! Of course it should!" I think welfare is a great thing, but should be used only for those people who actually need it. But due to a bunch of confusing loopholes, the policy will probably never change, and as a spokesperson for the Michigan League for Public Policy pointed out, getting involved with something like this might be a massive waste of the government's precious time. The spokesperson said: "The cases that seem to be driving this -- they're extremely unusual and rare. How much have we been spending to get to a few bad apples?"

When it's put like that, it kind of makes sense. I'm not for apathy, but is something like this worth the time, money, and energy when it's incredibly rare? Probably not. And people who can win the lottery and still collect government assistance have to look at themselves in the mirror each day. Isn't that bad enough?

What do you think of this?


Image via Tax Credits/Flickr

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