Oregon Audit Finds Dead People, Lottery Winners Among Benefits Recipients

By Chris Lehman

Dead people and lottery winners are receiving food stamps and other public assistance benefits in Oregon. That's according to a new audit released Wednesday by the Oregon Secretary of State's office.

Some of the examples are eye-popping: One person hit a $900,000 lottery jackpot but kept on getting food stamps. State benefits flowed to more than a thousand people who were reported dead by the Social Security Administration. Some of the improper payments are suspected cases of identity theft. 

Auditors say others are due to human error. And still others were cases of people taking advantage of legal loopholes, says Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown.

Kate Brown: "What we think is really important is that we continue to provide benefits to our most vulnerable Oregonians while at the same time ensuring that our taxpayer dollars are well spent."

The two state agencies responsible for distributing these public assistance dollars say they're taking steps to reduce the types of errors pointed out in the audits. But officials also point out that the mistakes represented just two-one hundredths of one percent of the total benefits doled out during the audit period.

Oregon Secretary of State's Audit Division: http://www.sos.state.or.us/audits/ (The first link on the page is to a PDF of the current audit)

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