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Question About Food Stamp Fraud

Sycamore, IL |

I am trying to figure out my rights and responsibilities in this matter and could use some help. I am a mother of two children and have been on the Link card for the past couple of years. My children's father and I had rented a home owned by my parents and shortly after that split up. He moved into random places (his moms, cousins, grandmas, etc.) and we have tried to make things work several times between then and now. Either way, I applied for Link when he moved out (since I was a waitress and went to college full time) and now my new caseworker is telling me I have to repay them from the time my benefits started because I had no proof that the father wasn't living there. I understand their concern, he still had his mail delivered here and he put down this was his address for his new job, and I have no actual proof that he wasn't here since he never lived anywhere where he would have had to sign a lease or anything. This is my THIRD caseworker and never once had I had a problem or concern with the others, in fact, they were aware of these circumstances. I was calling my current caseworker to let them know that he was moving back into the house when all this popped up. I was just accepted at a University on a full academic scholarship, and like I said before, I have two kids. It was never my plan to 'live' off of this card, just temporary help. I am completely terrified that I am going to be thrown in jail over this misunderstanding, any advice would help!

Attorney Answers 3

Posted

You need to appeal their determination if it's not too late. You should have an attorney help you with this process. If legal fees would be an issue, Prairie State Legal Services may be able to help you navigate the process. I believe the closest office to you would be in St. Charles. See if you can get in touch with your prior caseworkers as often DHS and similar agencies have internal communication problems. Stay on top of this and be aggressive. Best of luck to you and congratulations on the scholarship.

I hope that this answer helps you in a general sense, but it does not constitute legal advice, nor tax advice of any kind, and does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and myself or my firm.

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Gregory John Barry

Gregory John Barry

Posted

I would also add that based on the facts you've mentioned, I don't see any fraud or anything remotely criminal. DHS will make redeterminations from time to time and innocent failures to report happen all the time. You on the other hand have an argument that their redetermination was flat wrong.

Asker

Posted

Thank you so much for your quick and helpful response Gregory! I faxed some confirmation sheets from my place of employment to my caseworker this morning and called him right after to talk about my options. He told me that my whole case seemed 'fishy' and he did not like the fact that my ex's mailing address was still at the same location. I completely understand that, but I asked him very bluntly, 'Sir, you are now my 3rd caseworker....and all my other caseworkers (which I provided names for him) have known about this situation and have never given me any problems. Now, if they were to tell me FROM THE BEGINNING that this was unacceptable, then I would have immediately changed it, or dropped my application until it was cleared up, but waiting for this to continue for three years and then telling me I have to pay every penny back is like a kick in the face!" He proceeded to tell me that he was going to send another 're-determination' letter to me once I told him that my ex was moving back in, so I could add the boyfriend on the application to account for his income, etc. Now, my boyfriend has a good paying job, around 55,00 annually, so I know with both of our incomes combined we will not qualify for Snap benefits. So, he is pretty much going to look at his pay stubs and tell me....nope, you don't qualify for anymore aid, and we would like you to pay back all the money that we gave to you. I guess it boils down to this.....1) NOW, I understand that him having the same mailing address as me looks bad, and I cannot legally prove that he was not here, so do I even have a case to fight that?? 2) Most importantly, is this something that can land me in jail? That is my main concern, because like I said, I have two children and am enrolled in college for this coming fall.....I cannot lose everything I have over something like this!

Posted

Get statements from people he lived with to show he was not living with you. Appeal any adverse decision. If they start trying to make this a fraud case, get a lawyer.

The information you obtain from this website is not legal advice.

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Asker

Posted

Thank you sir, I really do appreciate your comment. I will try my best to fix this!

Stephanie O Joy

Stephanie O Joy

Posted

I agree with Mr. Dugan. Some notarized statements, particularly from those that lived with you, saying he didn't live there, OR, from both HIM and those he DID live with, can help.

Posted

You may be about two thirds right and about a third wrong. Since you're not swimming in money, check the NIU Law School for some clinical assistance. Clinic will LOVE your case, a lovely marriage of constitutional due process and administrative law. You will not come out entirely unscathed but your will not be steamrolled into the stone age either. Push the school thing. Don't let anything stop that. You will survive this.

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Asker

Posted

Thank you so much for your help! I truly appreciate the time you have taken out of your schedule to help a complete stranger!