BOSTON (WWLP) - Massachusetts' welfare agency has announced it will begin closing electronic benefit transfer card accounts with high balances. The Department of Transitional Assistance says it will close EBT accounts with unused cash balances of over $2,500 and investigate food stamp balances of more than $5,000.
"The fact that some clients are accumulating high SNAP or cash balances is inconsistent with the Department's goal of helping vulnerable individuals meet their most basic and immediate needs, and that's why we are taking this action," said DTA Commissioner Stacey Monahan in a statement.
"It certainly raises questions that people who are eligible for these benefits are in many cases the poorest of the poor so having an accumulated balance raises issues," said Governor Deval Patrick.
The announcement comes after state Representative Shaunna O'Connell (R-Taunton) paid the state $800 for a 7-month list of welfare data. Out of 550,000 SNAP, or food stamp recipients, nearly 1,800 had unused balances of more than $1,500. Another 45 recipients had balances of more than $5,000. The highest unused balance was more than $12,000. O'Connell says the rules announced by the DTA aren't tough enough.
"I would call them a joke because they are not going to stop the practice of people accumulating balances," said O'Connell. "What I'm calling for is not more than $1,500 accumulation over 2 months and at that time it reverts back to the state."