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The following is an archived video story. The text content of that video story is available below for reference. The original video has been deleted and is no longer available.

Welfare loophole allows people to collect while living with wealthy relatives

Reported by: Chris Papst

HARRISBURG -- When most people apply for welfare, they do so because they have nowhere else to turn. But that's not true for everyone.

During our investigation, we found a loophole that allows people to collect -- even if they live with millionaires.  

CBS 21 obtained confidential state documents showing that in late 2010, a 26-year-old woman filled out a welfare application form. She explained she had been out the country, got pregnant, and moved back with her parents - absent the babys father.

Under the resource section, the woman stated her parents made $191,100 a year, while having $810,311 just in retirement, stocks, cash and bonds.

Yet, despite those resources, the woman who was living in their home - was approved for food and medical care for herself and her baby. 

"Honestly, I dont think thats really right because youre living at home with your parents who have money. You have families on the street with nothing. It's not really fair to them, said Corneilla McIntosh of Harrisburg. 

It may not be fair, but it is legal. Welfare in Pennsylvania is broken up into different segments such as food, cash, and medical.

Once a person reaches a certain age, they can get assistance regardless of the homes income or resources. So, even if someone is living with a millionaire or even a billionaire, they can still collect your tax dollars. 

Weve lived, worked and paid taxes in Pennsylvania our whole lives, said the family.

CBS 21 contacted the family on the application. They agreed to speak with us anonymously.

People can judge but until they are in somebody elses shoes, what would they do?, they asked.

We asked the couple about the circumstances that led to their daughter applying for welfare something they encouraged. 

To me it makes sense that this is why the program is there. For people who get stuck between a rock and a hard place. This was an adult child who we could have said you dont get to live here anymore; do this on your own. And it would have cost the taxpayers of Pennsylvania a lot more because she would have gotten more benefits, they said.

We should be celebrating her success. She had a healthy child. She works full time. This is an instance where the system worked, they claimed.

But not everyone sees it that way. 

"No, I don't think it should be legal to live under a millionaires roof and still collect food stamps and welfare, added Chad Bortzfield of Harrisburg.

"Then they hurt the people who really do need it and they are the ones who suffer. And then we also suffer because we are funding it, continued Janet Fararo of York County. 

 Outside of the family who applied for the assistance, we had a hard time finding anyone who thought this should be legal, including state Sen. Rob Teplitz, D-15.

I think its indefensible. No one should look at welfare as a means of giving up your own family responsibility to take care of your family, he said.

Teplitz is a member of the Public Health and Welfare Committee. He will soon introduce a series of bills aimed at reducing welfare fraud and waste. The reforms include improvements to IT, increased training and now possibly this loophole which he didnt know existed. 

This is the first time I would be hearing of this situation. But from what you describe it would sound like that shouldnt be happening. We need to look at what loopholes in the law would allow that to occur and close them, Teplitz said.

But the family warns that approach could have unintended consequences. 

What hell do is perhaps send people out on the streets and theyll be applying for more benefits.  Be careful what you ask for, you just might get it, they said.

Teplitz plans to unveil his series of bills sometime early next year.


This is the third in an on-going series about waste watch and welfare fraud. 

The first installment, where a whistleblower alerted CBS 21 to problems within the Department of Public Welfare, can be found HERE

The second installment, about lottery winners who still collect welfare, can be found HERE.
 
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