DENVER (AP) – Colorado is saving millions of dollars since lawmakers changed the rules for a pension program a year ago.

A loophole previously allowed immigrants to immediately enroll in the state’s Old Age Pension after joining relatives in Colorado. The 2010 law imposed a five-year residency requirement.

The Denver Post reported Sunday that Colorado spent $77.5 million on monthly cash benefits under program in the fiscal year that ended in June, down $11.6 million or 13 percent from the year before.

The change pushed thousands of people off the rolls, including some who were paid the highest cash benefit allowed.

“They were the ones that had represented a disproportionate size of the overall caseload,” said Dan Daly, director of the Colorado Department of Human Services division of aging and adult services.

The program provides more than 23,000 low-income Colorado residents who are at least 60 years old with cash benefits of up to $699 per month. Some also get medical benefits.

“I think it’s important we provide help to people who have nothing,” said former state Rep. Jack Pommer, D-Boulder, who tried to change the program in 2010 but backed off because of opposition from fellow Democrats.

“But when people who have money are using this to essentially supplement their own income, I thought that was worth reforming,” he said.

The Colorado Center on Law and Policy, a liberal research group, wanted the state to grandfather in immigrants who came in under the old rules.

“They cut people off who were on the program,” said Adela Flores-Brennan, an attorney with the group. “I feel like that’s a really harsh outcome.”

Federal law requires a person who sponsors an immigrant to pledge to be responsible for the immigrant.

But Colorado’s program, which voters added to the state constitution in 1936, says the income of the recipient’s family can’t be considered in determining eligibility for the program.

State officials said the result was that some people living in Colorado sponsored their elderly parents as immigrants, telling the federal government they will care for their relatives but signing up the family member for the Old Age Pension.

The five-year residency requirement aligns the program with federal law, which imposes the same waiting period to receive federal benefits.

Haley McKean, a spokeswoman for the Arapahoe County Department of Human Services, said officials knew that the program was sometimes abused.

“(Recipients) were able to take the county’s funding for those benefits and move back to another state or to another country and use those benefits from afar,” she told The Post. “We saw fraud.”

The original amendment required recipients to be U.S. citizens, but a court struck that provision down, making legal permanent residents eligible.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Comments (9)
  1. Drew says:

    Finally a dose of common sense; They must be legally here and live here. Shame on Jack Pommer for even thinking benefits to illegals and sending checks to them in a foreign country is alright.

  2. John says:

    So we think we need to pay for Immigrants Iwhat else is new)
    Be sure and remeber this article next month when the state wants to raise taxes
    for education.
    We have money for education if we stop paying for people who don’t even belong here.
    By the way my neices and daughter in law are teachers,
    That makes it hard for me to vote NO next month but I have to.

  3. denvervet says:

    No wonder they want to come here, free money. My immigrant grandparents had to come here legally and get a job, no handouts for them at all.

  4. Ted says:

    Everything in this world is now backwards. I hate to say this but I’m glad my life is on the downside.

  5. family medical insurance will save you Huge! says:

    All person need family medical insurance quotes ought headed representing come up by great decisions at what time selecting family unit medicinal insurance plans. proviso you are departing headed representing acquire a quote representing family unit medicinal one representing your family, you must be experienced of several factors. Family members hardship headed representing have medicinal care insurance campaign in order headed representing meet the medicinal care expenditures representing every member.

  6. family medical insurance will save you Huge! says:

    This is certainly further more sensible quite than applying representing individual campaign representing each member of the family. A single insurance rule in Missouri quotation marks may perhaps sell all of members and the exact premium which you pay would too be much less.

  7. family medical insurance in Colorado CO. says:

    There are various options in Colorado for a quote available for family medical insurance plans and it is a shame when a CO quote is not as important as a family medical insurance policy that you understand the different factors of this insurance plan as their choice could affect your entire family. If you choose a good plan, you would be able to protect your entire family easily.

  8. The Down Payment Assistance Guy says:

    Way cool! Some very valid points! I appreciate you writing this post and also the rest of the site is also very good.

  9. Nyugdíj 2012 - Özvegyi nyugdíj 2012, öregségi nyugdíj, rokkantnyugdíj says:

    Heya i am for the first time here. I came across this board and I to find It truly useful & it helped me out much. I am hoping to offer something back and help others like you aided me.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s