Testimony

Of

Lana Reed

 

Provided Pursuant to

K.S.A. 75-2973

 Kansas Whistleblower Act

 

 

On The

HB 2372

 

 

Before the

House Judiciary Committee

 

“Under the current SRS system Kansas taxpayers are having millions of dollars stolen from them through fraud. Perhaps worse Kansas citizens, who are footing the bill, are being denied benefits that illegal aliens are approved for. The SRS system works for the illegal aliens and the illegal aliens know how to work the system….”

p.12

 

 

Representative Lance Kinzer, Chairman

Thursday, March 10, 2011, 3:30 p.m.

785-296-7692

 

Table of Contents

Executive Summary. 3

Fraud in the Kansas SRS System.. 4

Hiding Illegal Aliens and Fraud. 4

Types of Fraud. 4

Fake Documents. 4

Legitimate SSNs. 5

Multiple Identities. 5

Living the Good Life. 6

Is it really the good Life?. 7

Who is benefiting from this illegal labor?. 8

Cost for Fake Documents. 8

Proration: Special Treatment of Illegal Aliens Over Kansas Citizens. 8

Three Strikes You’re Out. 10

Over Whelming the System.. 10

Don’t Rock the Boat. 11

Conclusion. 12

 

 

 

 

 

Executive Summary

I was employed by the Social and Rehabilitation Services (SRS) for two and ½ years. During that time I witnessed overwhelming levels of fraud and corruption resulting in the waste of millions of tax payer dollars. Most the fraud was conducted pursuant to policies of the SRS which required employees to turn a blind eye to fraud and abuse of the welfare system in a magnitude of millions of dollars.

The policies in use at the SRS discriminated against Kansas citizens and law abiding immigrants in favor illegal aliens. Over this period of time the “Proration” policy, which provided benefits to illegal aliens that were denied to citizens and legal immigrants, just for Johnson and Wyandotte

Counties, cost taxpayers $2,276,544.00 annually. On a daily basis I witnessed the use of fraudulent documents as well as the fraudulent use of multiple social security numbers not yet “assigned” to an individual.

 

The frontline SRS case workers are being overwhelmed by the increase of usage of the system by illegals aliens. When I started my case load was suppose to be 130. It actually was more in the range of 160. By the time I left it had increased to over 260 or a 63% increase. This was in spite of the fact the bilingual caseworkers had increased from two, me and one in Wyandotte, to six, a 400% increase, by the time I left the SRS. 

 

As the performance standards remained the same over this two and one half year period the only way to maintain the required performance numbers was to sacrifice the fraud detection and verification procedures. This meant that the fraud detection and verification would have to be minimized or skipped altogether or the caseworker could not meet achieve the number of cases they were required to process (approve).

 

Ninety-Nine percent (99%) of my families were illegal aliens with citizen children. Less than 10 families had legal permanent residence. Virtually all of whom used fraudulent documents or fraudulently used documents to support their application for assistance.

 

 

Fraud in the Kansas SRS System

Witness Background

I was employed as a bilingual Human Service Specialist at the Social and Rehabilitation Services (SRS) assigned to the Johnson County Kansas office in Overland Park, KS from 7/2008 to 10/2010. I determined eligibility for food assistance, TANF (Welfare), and Medicaid/Medicare/ SOBRA.  (SOBRAS are emergency medical which mainly consisted of primarily paying 100% for illegal alien labor and delivery, and emergency services such as gall stones, heart attacks etc.)  I also determined eligibility to pay for child care for the citizen children so the illegal alien parents could work illegally.

 

Hiding Illegal Aliens and Fraud

In the SRS system illegal aliens were coded as “DF” (fraud) prior to 1997.  This code counted their full gross income in determining benefits.  In an explanation to me on why we now prorate income instead of counting the full gross like citizens for Food Assistance, I was told the federal government did not allow coding permanent residence that hadn’t been here 5 years as DF (fraud) [i] since they were here legally. So instead of using “DF” for illegal aliens and coding “DI” for permanent residents we had to begin using a “DI”[ii] code for both. [iii]

 

Types of Fraud

Fake Documents

 

Of my cases eighty three per cent (83%) had false Social Security Numbers (SSN) a majority of which had not yet been” issued by the Social Security Administration”.  The remaining 17% were paid in cash which we had to use written statements on the amount.  There was no way of proving exactly how much money they were making.  We had to accept a customer statement that they had no bank account or were paid in cash as true.   My former clients would sometime have more than 2 or 3 social security cards but only report one for benefits so they wouldn’t go over the gross limit.  Right before I left in October, in an exact incident as this one, I was told to call it “client error” when I encountered it instead of prosecuting it as fraud.  Even after we spent tax dollars having an investigator find this person working at two jobs and had an open and shut case.

Upon doing the required SSN check on SWSS (Soc Securities database) the SSNs would come up  as “impossible”, “surnames” don’t match, no Bendex etc. But mostly they would come back with no “return message at all”.

When finding multiple SSNs for one individual I would enter that information in the alias screen with all the names, birth dates and SSNs they use.  I do not have a number at this time for how many of my caseload used multiple SSNs, but that can be obtained from SRS reports. The number is significant.  Most caseworkers didn’t have time or even knew how to put that info in the computer system (It is a cumbersome system from 1987) so most of these false SSNs are hard copy and buried in the files.

I also ran SAVE[iv] on Permanent Residents cards.  One instance the man in the waiting room had a woman’s card.  He had superimposed his photo. He readily admitted it was fake and per policy I used it for the mandatory photo ID.  It is a standard practice to request all false ids and socials to determine wages in order to determine eligibility.

On occasion I would see a fake driver’s license, however due to the hologram that is difficult to fake.  And it wouldn’t matter anyway because I was required to use it for photo ID.

Most volunteer the documents are fake and they say the SSN (“No es bueno” It isn’t good) They know and have been coached that the federal law doesn’t allow a social worker to report their fake documents or status to immigration.  The policy made a caseworker complicit in their illegal activity.

Legitimate SSNs

Some had “legitimate” SSNs showing wages of people in other States which clearly indicates identity theft.  This was few and far between.   When doing wage verifications using the  “Work number” which indicates where in the US the given SSN showed wages.  I would see a person’s wages from another State. I was told to disregard those and process anyway on the check stubs they gave me.  The Client stated they weren’t a private investigator in Texas, an engineer, an insurance salesmen etc. so those wages were not used in determining benefits.  We had to accept the word of someone committing identity fraud as truth.

Multiple Identities

I spent 30 minutes with the Olathe Police Dept. trying to verify if an absent parent was really absent and on the list for deportation. He had 7 names and 3 different birthdates.  I was assured that what he was convicted for he would definitely be deported. The wage earner was indeed absent.

 

I had an illegal alien parent molest their 13 year old child.  The child was taken away and could only return if the parent wasn’t in the home.  The parent skipped town and now they probably have another name in another State starting another family where the abuse can continue.

 

It was very difficult to determine who was in the lobby to see me because our receptionists didn’t speak Spanish and the name they were giving on their “ID” was not the name they gave us on their account.  This happened on a daily basis. I accumulated 150 Instant messages with the front desk in a 6th month period of me going to the lobby for people that were not in my caseload, or to find out who they were and what they wanted. Per policy I had to be in the lobby within 15 minutes to meet customer service expectations even though most came without an appointment.  They could be using their mother’s last name, their father’s last name or another name entirely.   The IDs again didn’t match what was in our system. Sometimes IDs didn’t match the birthdates. I gave these instant messages to my management through the grievance procedure with KOSE because to continue to go to the lobby and take care of my increasing caseload was getting very challenging and impossible to do well.  It is difficult to run the “look ups” and “checks” when I had to run to the lobby for anyone who showed up with no appointment.

 

If a citizen came in with that many aliases or giving a different name than was on their ID they would be investigated for fraud or arrested.

Living the Good Life

When confronting a client about their bank statement showing Southwest Airline tickets and a balance higher than $2000, which is the maximum an applicant to have to receive benefits per policy, they said they kept the family’s money in their bank account, it wasn’t all theirs.  Since we take an “average” I had to approve their application.

At their interim review they dutifully kept it low but they had $150 shoes bought on PayPal.  Their minimum was within the guidelines they was approved.

One of my permanent resident’s families was actually convicted for fraud with a $16,000 overpayment.  They originally indicated $0 income, no bank accounts.  We have to take “client statement” as true.  They applied and were approved for everything. Food Assistance, TANF, Medicaid, Child Care. They should never have been approved. 

They owned a duplex part of which was rented out in Wyandotte County. They lived in Johnson County in a home paid for by their family members. That duplex was unreported income.  They were fraudulently receiving Social Security money from a family member who died in Central America.  Coroners in other countries do not have to report deaths to social security.

The only reason it was found out, was because I sent the investigator out to check household composition for a suspected absent parent wage earner in the home.  The illegal “lover” absent parent was there with their mutual child.  The spouse filed for divorce and the financial information became public record which our fraud dept used to prosecute the fraud and the overpayment.

 

The above relates to an individual, the term “they” is for gender masking.

The only way the State of KS can recoup these huge overpayments is to hope they apply for assistance again so we can deduct a percentage out of their benefits dollars. In other words they make payments on their prior fraud.  The recoupment rate on fraud on my caseload otherwise is very low.   The policy to recoup after giving money out in “error” costs the State of KS in the millions. With caseloads increasing, a caseworker doesn’t have time to do “look ups”.  Additionally requesting fraud investigation were frowned on in my last couple of months at SRS for lack of investigators on both the English Caseloads and Spanish speaking caseloads.

Is it really the good Life?

80% of my caseload suffered at some point with abuse and domestic violence. The husband can beat them “What are they going to do call the police and get deported?” Some don’t know how to drive or speak enough English to get around. They just endure the abuse.  Employers and Landlord can and do abuse them. Again… “What are they going to do call the police and get deported?”  To not enforce our laws is to allow exploitation of people who have made themselves vulnerable to bullies, thugs and crooks. As parents we teach our children that rules are there for a reason and to protect us.

 

I had a client with 6 citizen children that had a lump in her breast.  Even if the Komen foundation could give her a free mammogram who would pay for the expensive cancer treatments?  Is it better to watch her die with no treatment or have those 6 children parceled out in the system as wards of the State when they dies?  I had a client who gave birth naturally in Mexico no problems, turned out they discovered they was allergic to latex while giving birth here. They coded.  The State of KS paid for Labor and Delivery under SOBRA but the hospital had to eat the cost for 3 months in a coma.  Who is going to pay for her ongoing therapy?  

One client was dragged 20 feet by a tractor. Who pays for his external colon? Is that a medical emergency covered under SOBRA? The Workman’s comp didn’t want to pay because. “How were they certain it was from the tractor accident?

If a citizen gives birth or has a medical emergency without insurance they are 100% responsible for their hospital bills. There is no SOBRA for citizens.  Citizens go bankrupt paying medical and hospital bills. That is a citizen’s only choice.

 

Who is benefiting from this illegal labor?

I naively asked one of my clients why they didn’t come in legally. They told me, “No le dan visas a gente como nosotros”. They don’t give visas to people like us. We don’t have land or money.  They is right.  We would consider them risks to being wards of the State.  They would wind up at SRS. And they would have to pass a test in English to become citizens.  How can they do that if they can’t read or write English or Spanish?

 I asked her how much it cost to get across the border they said $2000 per person.  If you believe like I do that 30,000,000 people are here illegally that is 60 billion dollars. So you can get perspective, that dollar amount is equivalent to  the GNP of the country of Bolivia.  If you believe our official government figures of 9-12 million, then that is still 24 billion dollars in human trafficking.  Who is benefiting from illegal labor because it isn’t the citizen’s of the United States.

And you have to ask how does a person who can’t read or write pay $2000 per person.  

Cost for Fake Documents

 

Applicants have told me they can get a false SSN for $50.00 and a false Passport or Permanent Resident card for $500-1000.   I did not see false passports however I was told that was the going rate.  When I asked them how they knew they were not buying someone else’s number they told me they had a “maquinita” a machine that showed it wasn’t being used by someone else.  And they were right. What are the odds that a caseload of 265 families, that the majority of those using false social security numbers  are also unassigned? In other words this is not“guessing” or using random numbers.

 

 

Proration: Special Treatment of Illegal Aliens Over Kansas Citizens

 

Under United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) regulations the states have the option to base welfare benefits  (for food assistance) illegal aliens on Gross Income, which is the method used for U.S. citizens, or to “Prorate” income of the illegal aliens. Kansas has chosen the Proration option.  I was told these decisions are bureaucratic they are not done by legislation.

 

The illegal alien proration for food assistance makes illegal aliens with citizen children eligible for food while citizens with the same amount of income and household composition (number of people in the household) are denied such benefits. There is no incentive to become a permanent resident, if they did they would fall under the same rule as citizens and not have their income prorated causing them to exceed the income limit for food assistance.  

 

There is no illegal alien proration for citizens and someone with legal status. We always count the full income for citizens and permanent residents who have been here for more than 5 yrs. There were incidents where permanent residents would receive food assistance up until they reached their five years then they had to be told they were now over income because they had legal status here.  Put yourself in the caseworker’s shoes while trying to explain that.

 

It was standard policy to take falsified documents, permanent resident cards, as long as the ID had a picture matching the client. Mostly I used their countries’ Voter ID or their country’s driver’s license for photo ID. Although not required for expedite, I always asked for a birth certificate and SSN of citizen children for ID. In fact it was important to keep track of all the socials they used so we could determine benefits for them.

 

 I was officially trained to do look ups on all children’s social security numbers as well to see if there were any wages on them. I had 3 year olds flipping burgers etc. Mostly I had people with multiple socials. This made it really difficult to determine exact gross income. This fact and the illegal alien proration for food assistance made “denying” for over income very rare. In fact most of my day was spent approving applications and reviews. I rarely denied anyone.

 

Under the proration method illegal alien households consistently receive benefits that households of Kansas citizens are denied . Under the proration method the ratio of legal to illegal members of the household is used to reduce the gross monthly income which determines benefit eligibly and amounts.

 

A household comprised of one illegal alien mother with  a child born in the United States, who are considered a U.S. citizen, the proration is 50% so the gross income of the household is reduced by 50% for purposes of determining if the household is eligible for food assistance  and how much. 

 

100% of the gross income of households comprised of only U.S. citizens is considered in determining benefits. This has the effect of excluding the U.S. citizen households for benefits.

 

Also under the USDA regulation if the applicant cannot prove or refuses to prove their status i.e., provide documents of such, they are considered illegal aliens. This encourages citizens to lie about their status and discourages illegal aliens from trying to obtain a legal status as it would exclude them from or reduce their welfare benefits.

 

TAF grants[v] are also prorated for illegal aliens but never for citizens.  Although TANF money is not available to illegal aliens, it is allocated to them through the proration of the TANF grants which increases the benefits to the citizen children. Thus allocating money to illegal aliens that is illegal for them to have to boost benefits to the household.

 

Thirty per cent (30%) of my cases were over the gross income limit for food assistance The proration allowed them to receive the benefit while citizens of equal household composition would be denied.  I came up with an approximate cost of this policy and gave it to my manager in 2009. The cost for my cases and the other three bilingual case workers in Johnson and Wyandotte counties amounted to approximately $2,276,544.00 annually in benefits that if they were citizens would never have been issued at all.  When I told my boss that nationally this could equate to billions of dollars he jokingly replied “is that all?” The proration still exists. Nothing was done about it. He said “Call my congressmen”. Which is what I have been doing for the last 2 years.

Three Strikes You’re Out

The policy is 3 frauds and no more assistance. What this equates for citizen families is the wage earners no longer get assistance from the State of KS but their eligible children still do. Each time they are convicted of fraud their benefits cease for a period of time.   There is no punishment for illegal alien fraud because the proration already is designed to exclude part of the wage earners income.  However, when coded DF the system counts all the income and excludes the adults.  The illegal alien family does not really experience any financial difference.  They can and do get another social reapply for food assistance with less income and we are required to approve their application if they have citizen children.  The attitude became why spend tax dollars to send an investigator out when they are going to get benefits anyway? The policy should not be 3 strikes you are out but one and you are done…

Over Whelming the System

When I started with the SRS in 2008 I was the only bilingual worker for the Overland Park SRS office. By the time I left in 2010 SRS had added a total of three bilingual workers and Wyandotte County was up to three as well. This was a 500% increase in less than three years.

This system punished the diligent employee who wanted to not only do their job right but do the right thing. Our processing requirement was to have more than 93% of the food assistance applicants correctly processed in thirty days. This should be enough time to run checks and verify wages etc. However, due to the high attrition (my team completely turned over 100% from 2 years ag0) constant reassigning of cases, the caseloads went beyond burdensome making maintaining “statistics” for performance based evaluations and doing “fraud”  checks next to impossible. As a result most of the applicants were not properly checked. Even if I sent out the investigator and found another wage earner, the proration guaranteed that the income wouldn’t be all counted and after the rent deduction, the standard utility deduction etc the family would be approved anyway. 

When I first started I had a cap of eight new applicants per week.  The last year they uncapped me and I had to take whoever walked in the door. If 8 walked in one day (and they did) I had to take them.  Originally I was told my caseload would be 130.  My caseload hovered around 160 when I was capped.  Uncapped my caseload went to over 260, almost a 63% increase in cases. Of course the performance standard was not changed. And, things only became worse.

The last months I worked for SRS   so many English Caseworkers were leaving that I was required to take English cases. English workers had had enough of the caseloads, high expectations and the fraud and were leaving in record numbers.  This was very stressful since I was only trained on the illegal aliens with citizen children and I was not accustomed to Work Programs for citizens receiving benefits.

Citizens are required to comply with work programs to get TANF.  My citizen children’s parents (illegal aliens) who received TANF were not required to do work programs. I rarely had clients on TANF.  Over 95% of my caseload was working compared to 40% unemployed in the English Citizen Caseload.  The illegal alien proration for food assistance allowed two wage earners to work and still get benefits. My clients didn’t need vehicle money, job coaching, interview clothes etc to get a job.  The only time they didn’t have a job was in the winter when landscaping/construction was down. When the weather got warmer they would immediately get off TANF and return to only food assistance and child care for benefits so they could continue to work illegally.  Getting jobs was no problem for my caseload that was their objective when they crossed the border.

In essence the SRS subsidized the wages of the illegal aliens, allowing them to get by on a reduced wage, and otherwise help them to work illegally in this country at the expense of taxpayers and citizens who could not afford to work at the same wage without the government subsidy.

 

Don’t Rock the Boat

I felt because I started questioning the Illegal Alien proration, I got a target on my back. Most caseworkers didn’t want me to rock the boat they were trying to get to retirement or become vested.  But secretly the caseworkers hoped my Union grievances on the lobby policy would succeed since they were hopelessly overloaded. The lobby policy, was a customer service expectation of getting out to the lobby within 15 minutes of a client coming in whether they had an appointment with us or not.  This seriously ate into the “look up and verify” procedure time.  Making fraud easier to miss.

The caseworkers in SRS are given very little respect by management or the clients.  It is a thankless job. I admire those State employees.  It is unbelievable what they have to endure in order to make a living.   It is because management did not listen to my protests on the proration and the fraud that I joined the Union where I was guaranteed my grievances could be documented and heard.

Management doesn’t listen to workers suggestions because they don’t respect the workers.  It is of utmost importance to relay that I felt I was required to go along with fraud in order to keep my job there. Management certainly didn’t listen to what I was saying or take it seriously and they denied every grievance and especially didn’t listen to KOSE (State Employee Union) grievances.  If you don’t listen then how are you going to fix a problem? At some point one realizes SRS management did not want to fix the problem at all.

Conclusion

Under the current SRS system Kansas taxpayers are having millions of dollars stolen from them through fraud. Perhaps worse Kansas citizens, who are footing the bill, are being denied benefits and assistance. The SS system works for the illegal aliens and the illegal aliens know how to work the system.

Under the SRS system Kansans were treated as second class citizens in their own country by the government that was supposed to be working for them and was spending their money. SRS denied citizens benefits that were readily provide to illegal aliens. Citizens were punished for fraud but illegal aliens were not affected by the “punishment” with the current policies in place. Even the law abiding legal immigrants were put at a disadvantage compared to the illegal aliens. A system that rewards illegal activity only begets more illegal activity.

Thank you for the opportunity to testify.

Respectfully Submitted,

Lana Reed

 

 

 



[i] Wage earning aliens who are here legally as permanent residence do not get benefits under federal for five years. However the children get benefits whether they are legal are not. They get a proration (DI)

[ii] DI means

[iii] DI is also used for citizens who are under a work penalty in TANF (welfare).  Again wage earners are coded DI, but the children still get benefits.

[iv] SAVE is a system to verify the validity of a permanent residence card. (Immigration/Homeland Security)