Five big-prize lottery winners have had their $1,000 and $5,000 winnings siphoned off by welfare officials for back child support payments, state officials announced Wednesday.
The seizures were the first announced under a computerized matching program that will compare all $100, $1,000 and $5,000 lottery winners with the names of those who have unpaid bills with the state. Winners' checks are also being docked for back state income taxes, overpayment of unemployment benefits and outstanding student loans.
The child support payments collected from the five totaled $14,257. In addition, a total of $19,237 was collected from 13 other winners who had a variety of state debts.
One $5,000 winner in San Bernardino County owed $6,100 in delinquent support payments and will get none of his lottery winnings. The same is true for another $5,000 winner in San Joaquin County who owed $5,800.
A third $5,000 winner in San Mateo County will get $2,743 after paying $2,257 in back support payments.
Two $1,000 instant ticket winners also will see none of their lottery earnings. One is an Alameda County resident who owed $2,100 and the other, from El Dorado County, owed $15,000 in child support, plus $527 in state taxes.
The state Department of Social Services estimated Thursday that its Lottery Winners Intercept System--now only a pilot project--will net $100,000 in delinquent child support payments during its first full year of operation, beginning Jan 1.
Big lottery prizes also can cause welfare recipients to be bumped off the roles, at least temporarily. State welfare officials say mothers receiving Aid to Families with Dependent Children--the most common form of welfare--could see their benefits disappear for a month or more, especially if they spend their winnings on luxuries.
Recipients of food stamps, county general relief and Supplemental Security Income from the federal government also could lose benefits temporarily.