Michigan $2 million lottery winner on food stamps
DETROIT (Reuters) - A Michigan Lottery $2 million jackpot winner from last year is eligible and collecting some food stamp assistance under a loophole state officials have been working for months to close.
Leroy Fick, who lives near Saginaw, took a lump sum payment for his June 2010 prize, buying a house, a used 2008 Audi and investing the rest, attorney John Wilson said on Wednesday.
The income he receives from investing the remaining money leaves Fick eligible under federal rules for food assistance of "far less than $5,000 for the year," Wilson said.
"There is no asset based testing for it, it is all based on income," Wilson said. "The amount that he has invested of this winnings spins off an amount of income and that income is such that he is eligible."
Michigan has been working with federal officials for two or three months on ways to close the loophole, said Gisgie Davila Gendreau, a state human services department spokeswoman. She was not speaking about Fick's case specifically.
"We are actively seeking a change to the food assistance policy, which is a federal policy, to ensure that those who are truly needy qualify," she said.
Michigan state Senator John Moolenaar, a Republican from Midland near where Fick lives, has proposed requiring lottery officials to share winners names with government departments and remove them from public assistance programs.
"Taxpayer dollars should be used to help the truly needy, and we must stop situations like this from falling through the cracks," Moolenaar said in a statement on Wednesday.