Rauner signs bill stopping welfare payments for the dead
Illinois has spent millions of dollars on the deceased in recent years.
Only in Illinois.
Gov. Bruce Rauner signed House Bill 3311 on July 21, requiring the Department of Human Services to conduct a monthly crosscheck of its aid recipients with the death records kept by the Department of Public Health.
If the crosscheck yields a death record, the department will immediately cancel all public aid benefits to the recipient. To hedge against the hardship of a head of household passing away and a family being left without a safety net, the benefits will continue to flow if individuals in the “assistance unit” in question rely on the payments. The unit includes spouses and children.
Welfare dollars for the deceased have long been an object of scrutiny in Illinois. Millions have been spent on dead residents in the last few years.
Auditor General William Holland found the state had more than 8,200 people on the Medicaid rolls in 2013 who had been dead for more than 60 days. According to the audit, the state spent $12.3 million on 2,850 of those people. The following year the auditor general found nearly 6,000 people enrolled had died more than 60 days prior. Of those, the state spent $3.7 million on 1,111 people.
The law will also prevent Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, commonly known as food stamps, from going to the dead. The same safeguard allowing for family members to collect the benefit will apply.
Illinois recently became home to the highest rate of food-stamp dependency in the Midwest. A law aimed at stopping the pay of benefits to the deceased may bring marginal changes to those numbers, but – as is the case with every component of the state’s dependency crisis – the only long-term solution is economic growth.