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A Prime Example of How the Welfare System Goes After the Wrong People!
Falsely accused of welfare fraud
Most of you don’t know me, or what I have been through. I feel I have to post this, just to show you how screwed up the system is!
In October of 2005 my daughter and I were in a very bad car accident.
of 2005 I was told while applying for medical benefits that I also
qualified for food stamps, so I applied. And that my friends was one of the biggest mistakes of my life!
In 2007 while caring for my dying Mother, who was bedridden and had severe dementia, I was called in to the welfare office for an “informal meeting” due to discrepancies found on my original form I filled out. While there I was told that they just needed to go over everything with me and it wouldn’t be a big deal. About two weeks later I received a letter saying that I was accused of welfare fraud, owed thousands of dollars back to the state, and had to go to a court hearing.
To explain it in more detail, I am pasting a letter I wrote to the Congressman for our district, as well as to many other government officials, including OBAMA! The letter pretty much sums up what happened to me;
"I am writing to you regarding a case of welfare fraud that has been brought against me. The accusation is that I never claimed my son was living with me, and that when I did claim he was, I never said he had an income. Because I have never intentionally done one thing to gain anything from anyone, or any organization in my life, I would appreciate your reading the facts in my case.
I have worked since I
was 13 years old and never asked, or looked for help from anyone.
Until November of 2005, after my daughter and I were involved in a
near fatal car accident.
My whole life changed
from that day on.
On October 29, 2005 we were hit by a speeding car, our van rolled over, I was thrown through my van windshield, and was assumed dead by many. My daughter was miraculously thrown to the back of the van and suffered a mild concussion.
It was over three weeks before I was released from the hospital. I had surgery, speech therapy, rehab, and more.
Shortly before all of this my ex-husband had become delusional and schizophrenic , and I had to have him leave because he was also showing signs of hostility and agitation and I feared for myself and children.
The accident left me with severe PTSD, post traumatic brain injury, back problems, vision problems, severe anxiety, panic attacks, short term memory loss, and a mild case of agoraphobia. My daughter also has some back problems, and she too has PTSD. When I first got out of the hospital in November 2005 after the car accident, I stayed with my mother for two days. After two days I insisted I was good enough to go home and my kids would help me out. I have no clear memories from the morning before the accident, until roughly April or May of 2006. I was on several medications including; oxycodone, ativan, effexor, ambien, and more. My daughter was forced to take over the household duties and care for me all day. My son works full time and took me to all of my doctor appointments when he was off, as well as helped me pay all of the household bills. My Mother also helped me with the bills.
In December of 2005 I was told I needed to apply for medical benefits. I went to apply at the Lancaster, PA office. While there I was told that I also would be eligible for food stamps. This is where my poor judgment, too much medication, and really having no idea what I was even signing at that point, made my life a living hell. As I said before I have no real memories until May of 2006, I still have short term memory loss and have no memory of the accident or the months that followed it. Some very sketchy ones, but that is it.
In August of 2007 I got a letter asking for a copy of my son's pay stubs for that month. I sent in my son's pay stubs when asked to, yet that is never brought up when my case is discussed.
In 2007, my Mother became very sick. She broke her hip, and then the doctor found that she had both breast and bone cancer. After her operations and rehab, It was decided that when she came out of the hospital she would live with us.
I realized that we
would no longer be eligible for food stamps in December of 2007, due
to my mother's income. I called and canceled my appointment for
renewal, and never applied again after that. If I was truly doing
something underhanded, I would have kept applying.
Looking back at my record I am convinced that my judgment, my thinking, and my general mental status was greatly impaired due to going through the van windshield, suffering from facial lacerations, a head injury, and being put on several medications, some very heavy duty, along with the herbal supplements I decided to take on my own. I seriously assumed since my son worked and his income was his, not mine, that it didn’t have to be reported. It was my understanding that a spouse would be reported since he would be contributing to the household rent, etc.. Chris helped as much as he could at that time. But also had to buy a new car because his car was taken by my ex husband when he left. I wasn’t charging him to live with me, just pay a bill here and there.”
And that is the very long letter I wrote to several government offices.
Shortly after that I received information in the mail that I would be receiving a payment book to make payments on the over payment of food stamps. I also found out that I was eligible once again for the food stamps since I was on SSI.. My food stamp statement did show a reduction and I began making payments with the book I was sent. I assumed that someone intervened for me and got the facts of what happened to me to the right people. NEVER assume a thing!
I really thought that the original court case that I was told I had to go to, had been settled, and that it was over. Because nothing is ever easy for me, I wanted to make absolute sure. I wrote the Inspector General’s office to ask if the case was something I still had to worry about. After trying to call several times, I was forced to write a letter. The letter was sent a full three weeks before the court date.
I got a message (the day before the case date), from the woman who was accusing me of welfare fraud, informing me that the coupon book was sent as an administrative error and that it will all be squared away at my court case tomorrow. In the meantime I had received two letters stating I need to pay with the coupons, as well as the letters from welfare with the food stamp reductions. This just added to my anxiety and panic attacks. I was not sure I could even go to the court case due to the condition I was in. I really didn’t know what more they were looking for from me.
I went to court with a court appointed attorney, who really didn't take a lot of time with me, or discuss the case to the point that I felt she really understood what happened to me. So needless to say I was found guilty, even with a letter from my psychotherapist explaining my situation, and that in his opinion I did not knowingly falsify any paperwork, the hospital records detailing everything that happened to me and the services I was given, and the list of medication that I was on at the time.
In the end I was told I had to pay; $50.72 a month back until the $5,000.00 was paid back, have 24 hours of community service, and am forced to meet with a parole office every month for two years. Can you believe that they treated this as a criminal case and I was put on PAROLE!!!
Making the $50.72 payments each month was not easy. I had to ask my son to help with that as well as everything else he was doing for me. I was able to get the payments reduced to $30.00 a month, but still had to do community service in an office, even though I am on SSI due to not being able to work, mainly because of the PTSD. But that didn't matter to the judge who could have cared less about anything that I had to say, or that I never had a record of doing anything wrong in the past.
I cannot afford to pay anything else, and I certainly cannot pay the entire amount that is due in March of this year. That is impossible in my situation. I have no idea what they are going to do about the remainder of the money that is owed.
What I still cannot understand is, why did the Inspector General's Office send me the information and payment book, how they could have made an error like that. It left me with false hope that everything was going to be alright. And then to be told that it was sent as an administrative error tells me that the government can make an error and nothing comes of it, but if a citizen makes an honest mistake, especially when they are not thinking clearly, and on high doses of mind altering medications, they get treated like a common criminal.
I am an honest, hardworking, single Mother. I go out of my way to help anyone who needs it, regardless of what is happening in my life at the time. Up until the car accident I worked hard to make a decent life for my children and myself.
A criminal is something that I am not, and I take great offense in being labeled one.
is my story and it is my hope that before anyone applies for any kind
of public assistance, that they are very careful when filling out the
paperwork. DO NOT make any mistakes. If you do unknowingly make a
mistake of any kind, and it is found later on, no one will care, and
no one, absolutely no one, will listen to your side of the story.