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The North Carolina House of Representatives has taken dead aim at welfare recipients who continue to claim benefits, such as food stamps, even after they have hit the jackpot and won the lottery.

State Rep. Bert Jones, a Republican from Rockingham, a rural community of less than 10,000 people near the South Carolina border, introduced a bill that would mandate a cross-check of state food stamp recipients with lottery winners on a monthly basis.

If a food stamp recipient was found to have won the lottery, their status would be automatically reassessed to determine their eligibility for benefits.

“It has allowed millionaires and lottery winners to qualify for food stamps,” Jones said. “As many as 4 million people may be receiving food stamps despite having resources above these federal limits.”

The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) administers the federal food benefits program commonly referred to as “SNAP” (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), which currently provides funds to a record 47.8 million Americans ranging from $194 for a single person to $1,169 for a family of eight.

The bill would trigger a reassessment in any instance where a recipient won more than $2,250, but David Locklear, a DHHS official, said applicants are already required to report employment status upon both application, and recertification, which occurs every six months.

At the present time, there is no clear understanding of how a failure to comply with the new 20-hour per week requirement for those adults without dependents able to work would impact benefits, but the Jones’ bill imposes consequences for applicants who fail to report income.

After three offenses, the household would be permanently barred from participating in the food benefits program.

Jones says the penalty, although it seems harsh, is allowed under federal guidelines, but opponents argue that the provision would punish those most in need of the important nutrition the federal program provides – children in low-income households.

“People around here talk about federal dollars like it’s manna from heaven,” Jones has said. “People like you and me and everyone else in North Carolina are federal taxpayers.”

Source: WRAL



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