Welfare recipient frustrated over fraud in state system

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by CHRIS INGALLS / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @cjingalls

KING5.com

Posted on March 25, 2011 at 5:32 PM

Updated Friday, Mar 25 at 5:37 PM

SEATTLE – Reaction is pouring in about an overhaul in the Washington state Department of Social and Health Services following a blistering series of KING 5 investigations.

Adella Cortes has been closely following our series on welfare fraud. And, she's angry.

'It just surprises me it was let go for so long," said Cortes.

She's now hopeful since state leaders are promising a crackdown on welfare cheats.

"It was good to see that they are going to do something about it," said Cortes.

She doesn't get the news from her living room TV. She doesn't have a living room. She gets her news in the Puyallup Public Library. The rest of her time is spent in an RV, which is home for her and her three teenagers.

Cortes depends on the state welfare program to survive. She gets $300 in welfare cash a month courtesy of a state-issued debit card called an EBT card and $400 in food stamps.

"When we go to the grocery store to get food, I have a way of keeping the card against me so that nobody can see what it is because I am embarrassed to use it," said Cortes.

But she's forced to after a crumbled marriage and serious illness late last year left her penniless. Her emotions are torn by these stories. She's appreciative that the state, this week, pledged more resources to fight welfare fraud.

But she also worries about a public backlash -- the perception that all welfare recipients are undeserving.

"It's hurtful," she said.
  
Of course, the cheaters take away benefits from people who really do need them. So, hopefully, more fraud fighting will result in more of your tax money going to the right people.

However, with the serious financial crisis, welfare programs are on the chopping block and people like Cortes are bracing for more cuts in their monthly benefits.

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