A New York couple was charged with welfare fraud for allegedly falsifying paperwork to receive $10,000 in food stamp benefits, according to reports on Monday.
Michael and Sheila Goodhines falsified their application to make it appear as though their household income was lower than it actually was, effectively scamming the food stamp system between August 2014 and March 2016. The Herkimer County Sheriff’s Office Welfare Fraud Unit arrested the couple July 13 for welfare fraud and grand larceny, a local affiliate of NBC News reported.
Food stamps are officially known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which is overseen by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The program works with state agencies to make sure benefits are properly distributed to qualified individuals and families struggling to feed themselves.
Lawmakers over the years often express concern over the size of the program and potential for abuse. Fraud is hard to detect under the rapidly growing program, according to the Government Accountability Office.
Work requirements and restrictions to criminals with drug-related charges have been used to help mitigate the potential of abuse. These requirements mandate that an able-bodied adult without children must work part-time or be involved in a jobs training program to qualify for food stamps. The restrictions were implemented in 1996 as part of the federal welfare overhaul push.
The USDA estimates the program has increased from 17 million participants in 2000 to nearly 47 million in 2014, although the improved economy has helped decrease the number of participants in recent years. The Congressional Budget Office found, since participation hit its peak in December 2012, that the number of people receiving benefits has declined by more than 1.5 million.
The couple is scheduled to return to court in August, reports WIBX.
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