A woman who won a $1 million lottery prize in Michigan has had her food stamp assistance cut off after reports surfaced that she was still collecting the taxpayer-supported benefit.
The state’s Department of Human Services has cut off $200 a month in food aid to Amanda Clayton following reports in which she said she believed she should still be eligible to receive the benefit.
In addition to being cut off, reports said, Clayton has been referred to the department’s anti-fraud authorities.
“DHS relies on clients being forthcoming about their actual financial status,” director Maura D. Corrigan said in a statement, according to the Chicago Tribune. “If they are not, and continue to accept benefits, they may face criminal investigation and be required to pay back those benefits.”
The 24-year-old Clayton, who has two children, won the prize in September. She took a lump sum payment that amounted to just over $500,000. After collecting her prize, she never told state officials about the money.
She used part of her winnings to buy a new home and a new car, but continued to collect the monthly stipend to feed her family, relatives told local television stations and newspapers.
After reporting on the case, the state capitol moved to limit paying out more benefits to recipients who have had good fortune. That effort, in part, was sparked by a similar case in 2010, when a benefits recipient won a $2 million lottery prize.
“Michigan DHS does not currently have the ability to verify a person’s lottery winnings in determining benefit eligibility, but bills pending in the state Legislature would require the Michigan Lottery to notify DHS of lottery winners,” said Corrigan on Wednesday.
“We fully support this proposed change. Our office of inspector general will continue to vigorously pursue any and all abuse and fraud in the welfare system,” she said.
State Rep. Dale Zorn, a Republican, is currently sponsoring a bill that would force DHS notification by lottery officials.
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