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Father's help prevents family from getting food stamps

Father's help prevents family from getting food stamps

By Matt Grant. CREATED Jan 13, 2012 - UPDATED: Jan 13, 2012

NORTH FORT MYERS - A retired veteran's generous gift to his daughter and son-in-law is preventing them from collecting food stamps.

The state says the extra money Kim Lucas, a mother of two daughters, is getting from her father to stay afloat is the same as getting a paycheck and counts as gross income, blocking her from getting food stamps.

"I don't think it's fair at all," said Lucas.

Lucas has been unemployed for three years. Her husband works part-time as a photographer but work and money are in short supply.

"In December," she said, "every two weeks [he made]...around $400 dollars every two weeks."

When they can't pay the bills, Lucas' 78-year-old dad Denzil chips in, scraping between $300-$1000 out of his retirement each month to help them out.

"My dad only helps us just to pay our bills so we don't lose our house," said Lucas. "And we still have water and electric."

"Family helps family," said her father, Denzil Tomlinson. "That's the way it's always been."

But that extra help is preventing them from getting food stamps since the state sees that cash as another source of income.

According to Lucas, her family has to make under $2400 a month to qualify for food stamps.

"With his help is that bringing you above $2400 a month consistently?," asked Fox 4 reporter Matt Grant.

"When I add it up it doesn't seem like it is," said Lucas. "No."

"I don't understand it," she said. "We got food stamps spring last year. And this year we're not. It's the same amount of income."

A spokesperson for DCF, which runs the food stamp program, confirms the extra cash Lucas is getting counts as gross income.

After we brought her story to their attention, the agency agreed to give her case another look.

"If we determine that maybe this is not reasonable or [the money] cannot be expected" every month,  said DCF spokesperson Terry Field, "we'll look at that again and see if she might be eligible for the benefits."

At issue is whether the family, with the dad's help, makes under $2400 a month. Lucas insists that's the case and says DCF is making a math mistake.

DCF says anyone who disagrees with their decisions can file an appeal.

Florida food assistance info

Matt Grant
mgrant@fox4now.com