Jff-well Sort Of, Drug Testing for Those on Public Assitance

Updated on June 15, 2012
C.C. asks from Foresthill, CA
23 answers

Ok so apparently there is a law in Florida already that does this but I was wondering what other people thought. My instinct says why not? Working for the government we are drug tested at random (to include looking at misuse of prescription medication) , given breathalyzers for alcohol if there is a suspicion but also at random, our finances scrutinized (we even have to provide a written explanation for credit inquiries), and have to be mindful of how we express our political views. So why can’t those who are requesting public assistance be subject to the same rules?

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answers from Kansas City on

So a welfare recipient tests positive for some form of drug and then what happens? Their welfare benefits are taken away so now they can't feed and clothe their kids. So the kids are taken away and now they are in "The System". The System pays a foster parent (or two) 4 times more than the welfare amount to care for the kids. How does that make sense?

P.S. Perhaps we should start using something other than JFF for weighty topics such as this... How about JFC: Just For Conversation or JFD: Just For Discussion or something like that? :)

10 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

The biggest reason not to? the COST.


There's these people that have kids, what to do with the kids? Take them away if their parents tested positive? Because if they don't, then there are kids that "need" the help but won't receive it, and usually the US is majorly against having kids live like that. If so, what after that? Test ALL parents and take the kids away if they do drugs, assisted or not because it is "only fair"? and then there's the teens on drugs that get help from the Govt. by their parents applying- do THEY get tested, too? What if a parent tested positive and gets the benefits taken away, but the Govt doesn't take kids away, but wants to financially help the kid- who's to say the parent won't just use that money on their self? There are SO many questions in response to this! What if it is a mild 'drug" like weed? Does that count? ...or is it only hard drugs? Why? Also, what about abusers of alcohol or abusing Rx drugs? I personally find that much worse than weed!

SO complicated, that is probably WHY they don't drug test nationally.

BTW, I don't support drug testing at a lot of jobs that do it. I like personal responsibility. If you screw something up at work due to drugs or something else, you get fired and pay the "price", whatever that is. That is how it should work, and employers need to be attentive and choosy, just a negative on a drug test does not equal a great employee. I honestly think it raises a great work ethic, something that seriously lacks nowadays. And dang it, if someone wants to smoke pot on the weekends, that should certainly NOT have anything to do with getting hired.

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answers from Oklahoma City on

I say no, Florida has proven themselves wrong. They ended up paying more in all since doing this. It is NOT saving them any money. The people testing are NOT testing positive for drugs.

I really want to put every word of this paragraph in capitols but I figure you will get the idea with this sentence here.

The part about this that I find WRONG in the extreme is that if a person is working and has to go do a random drug test, they don't pull your name out of the hat and say "Hand over $45 to pay up front for this test, you are required to take this test , give me money and go take this test. If you do not produce $45 right now you are fired for not taking a drug test."


I am poor. If I could get food stamps I would have to go to the pawn shop and pawn the kids bikes or my car to get the money to pay outright for a drug test.

That is what is totally wrong about this whole thing. If they want to make poor people even poorer and starving even more then for God's sake find some other way that does not make the children in those homes go even hungrier.

Just in case you can't tell. This is a topic I can get up on a soapbox about and go on and one.

The children in this country that are below poverty level are hungry. We are sending aid to countries that will stab us in the back given the right opportunity, but we are making it harder and harder for Americans to get enough food to eat. Jobs are going to illegal aliens, Americans cannot find jobs that will even pay their rent. Minimum wage won't cove basic needs in a family.

Our children are who go without when things like drug testing happens.



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answers from Portland on

As a former Navy girl who had to pee in a cup with someone else in the bathroom...

NO. In fact, I will never, ever work at a place which makes me pee in a cup. It's about one of the most degrading, inhumane things to make people do. Either I'm a trusted employee, or I'm not.

"Mindful of expressing political views"... hmmm, isn't that covered in freedom of speech? I understand that it does us well to be more politic in our workplace, but to not be able to express our views as we see fit? I know there are people in other countries fighting for this very freedom. As someone who has regularly held up signs protesting wars, I do not believe my eligibility for social services should be contingent upon conformity.

Years ago, when I was younger, working at a non-profit 40 hours a week and still not making enough, I applied for food stamps. My finances were scrutinized, believe me.

The whole thing screams of distrust. My father was a state worker for years and I never have heard of random breathalyzer test. I would agree that government assistance is somewhat broken, but I don't think these measures are going to get people the help they need. Addiction issues aren't going to be automatically fixed by denying a family assistance. We need other tools in place. This doesn't fix it.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

As Jennifer said.. They already do this and it is costing so much money for so little return.. Imagine that.. You go on a witch hunt and there are hardly any witches.. and it actually is costing more than it is worth..

That is why I say drop it. It is not worth the TIME and the MONEY.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

Well, it was designed to "Save taxpayers dollars" and we have saved...drum roll please....negative 45,000 (I think that was the last figure any who).

Instead of wasting taxpayers dollars for drug testing, why not yank the benefits for those who get caught? No extra money wasted that way.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

i don't like it.
'fairness' seems to be a mantra. i realize that lots of jobs are now requiring drug testing, and for many it's important (pilots, firefighters etc). so my first objection is that people on public assistance are most likely there because their circumstances are desperate. the mentality that assumes that they're on assistance because they're lazy shiftless drug abusers is way too close to the assumption so many make about guilt in other circumstances. we used to be a country of people who assumed the best about others. i am very worried about the paradigm shift to the assumption of venality, and the willingness of the majority to submit to all manner of indignity and violation because 'if you've got nothing to hide what does it matter?'
indeed. being handcuffed en masse on a crime scene, an intensely personal search at airport scanners, allowing the failing education system to decide when or how often we can take our own children out of school, it's beyond a slippery slope. we're already a big flock of sheeple. i'm a republican because i'm so very against all of this, but of course even my own party has betrayed me.
oops. i not only digress, i rant a little.
the pertinent phrase in your question is 'suspicion.' i don't think that needing aid is in and of itself suspicious. and if lindsay lohan can live big while jet-setting, do we really feel that a beaten-down dad who cannot find a job, and whose wife is home with 4 hungry and maybe sick kids, and takes solace in a doobie, is not worthy of some help?
i don't think government workers should be drug tested at random, and i think breathalyzers are awesome IF there's suspicion. i hate that your finances are scrutinized.
and i don't think that people who are in a far worse situation than you are should be subjected to the same outrageous privacy violations just because you're maltreated.
rather than wanting to punish aid recipients, why don't all of us demand dignity and respect?

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Hartford on

Who is going to pay for all of these drug tests when the majority of people on assistance are NOT doing drugs? Not those receiving assistance. Not the state. Tax payers.

This is just playing into a bigoted stereotype.

Employers are, for the most part, private entities that can choose for themselves whether or not to drug test their employees. Company policy is up to them. But making drug tests part of PUBLIC policy is a very, very slippery slope.

Working for the government, yes, you ought to be expected to take drug tests and breathalyzers. You work for the government. You represent the government. Yes, you're earning a paycheck but you still have to represent the entity that you work for and prove that you're worthy of the position that you hold. People on assistance do not have that burden. They already have to jump through hoops living on the poverty line, proving they're poor enough to "deserve" assistance. Proving they're "sick enough" to qualify for disability or rehabilitation services by obtaining every diagnosis ever proclaimed by every doctor ever seen, every prescription ever taken, ever surgery ever performed, every hospital visit ever made with justification for every single thing. And that's just for getting on state insurance. Proving they're entitled to veteran services over and over and over again with reams of paperwork and certificates showing yes, spouse was in the Navy and discharged honorably. Yes, spouse was laid off and not fired for anything nefarious. See? His former boss is even a reference with a glowing letter of recommendation. Proving you qualify for unemployment benefits EVEN WHEN the employer submits all appropriate paperwork and you comply with everything showing you were laid off. EVEN WHEN you have proof that you're submitting job applications and are going on interviews.

We want to throw mandatory drug tests on top of all of this? How much more hoop jumping do we need? How much more do we need to PROVE that we need assistance? That our children NEED food on the table and health insurance? That we need help getting community college job training paid for because of repeated "rainy days" depleting our rainy day funds? How do you prove need like that when all anyone wants to think is, "I'll bet they're doing drugs."

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answers from Boca Raton on

No . . . unless there is CAUSE it is a violation of a person's civil rights imho.

People who favor this should think long-term. What happens when it becomes a condition of health care under the national program? Or of obtaining a driver's license (after all you're driving on government roads)?

We are either free people or we are not. Yes, some scum bags will slip through the system. That's the price of freedom.

I don't even like it with private employers but the difference there is that they are private. Then again, now that the mega corps control our government what is the difference?

And, as another mom mentioned, it's not even helping the state of Florida save money (it's costing us).


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answers from Cincinnati on

I asked this question a couple weeks ago. But these are my feelings on it, I have had several "friends" (sarcastic quote marks!) who were on public assistance and were adicts. ALOT of the harder drugs don't stay in your urine for more then a couple days. If someone knows they have a drug test they wait a couple days then go back to drugs (sometimes a stronger amount leading to more overdoses, oh and have you ever been in an ER around the first of the month after SS checks go out. Flooded with overdoses) Addicts are very good at getting around things. Plus why take away certain programs that could help them get off drugs? Such as medicaid for treatment. Here is a better idea then drug test, don't consider being an addict a disabilty then distribute disabilty checks to someone with this problem.
SfromTX: I dont' think that that your ideas are fair. My kids are on medicaid and we have been collecting food stamps. My husband did go to college (not a 4 year school, but he has an Associates degree) but we only gross $24,000 a year. That is between his full time job and his part time job. For me it would cost more in child care and gas then I would earn to I am a SAHM. If someone wants us to take a drug test that is fine (but I don't think it will help since the people who are really on drugs will get around it somehow) but limit the time we are allowed on assistance? Because its our fault that my hubby is underpaid. He IS constantly looking for a better job and this job is better then the one he just left (he is paid about $1.50 more an hour and gets about 4 hrs more a week) And community service? When are we suppose to fufill this? between his two jobs my hubby gets about 5 hrs of sleep a night, and I would love to do some community service (there are alot of great places that have given alot to us over the past couple year.) but its just not practical till my kids are a little older then 3 and 4mnths.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

My first thought - if only it were that easy. To answer your question directly, I don't mind the requirement and I'm sure most on assistance wouldn't also. However, I'm not entirely sure it's going to fix any problems and I do question seriously the cost effectiveness. Based entirely on my experience the system as a whole is a broken dadgum mess run by bunch of utter idiots who epitomize government employees at their dead level worst.

Here's a peek at what I've seen firsthand. For over two years now I have been helping my disabled mother receive food stamps and subsidized health care at a county clinic. The clinic is a three ring circus – reception is an island, pharmacy is an island, the doctors are an island. No one knows what anyone else is doing. Calling today gets one answer. Calling next week with the same question gets another answer. Nothing is straightforward - making appointments to asking medical questions to filling prescriptions – it’s all a flipping nightmare. Every six months she gets a new doctor. She gets an appointment about every six weeks if she’s lucky. She sees the same doctor maybe two or three times tops before being cycled to another new doctor. Each doctor wants to repeat the tests the last one did and each one hesitates to sign a letter verifying my mother’s disability. She has to have the signed verification letter to continue receiving health care and food stamps. She understands the doctors hesitation to sign the letters but she’s stuck. She’s not making up her disability. She hobbles in to the clinic with her bag of medicines/medical journal and the test history is there to prove her ongoing issues. The appointments themselves are fraught with difficulty. They are a set time but she has to be there about two hours early (registration and waiting) and invariably the appointment is at least an hour late. Some doctors give her a good amount of time while others rush her out the door. Honestly each visit takes up half of her day. I don’t know how people with jobs and/or kids access this so called benefit. This last time they called her four hours before her appointment and informed her she had failed to register so they were canceling her appointment. She begged to come in right there to register and they said no. Registration is now a separate appointment which must be scheduled when she schedules her doctor’s appointments. They changed the rules and she should have (divinely) known this. So she had to call back to make the two separate appointments. They are both six weeks out. Never mind she’s about to run out of her prescriptions and is having a serious problem at the moment. Don’t get me started on the pharmacy/refill debacle. She’s out of her medications more than she’s not and every single refill (she’s takes over a dozen) is a pitched battle fought in the fog against an enemy made of wind.

Then there are her food benefits. Each quarter we fill out their little forms and we provide things like bills, bank statements, vehicle titles, etc. as proof my mother really is truly broke and in need. Quite frankly it’s a humiliating process but I try to stay positive to keep my mother going. Genuinely we don't mind since we want to be helpful and honest. It is all part of the process we argue and we go along with it to keep the system running properly/to ensure no one is defrauding the taxpayers. It takes a tremendous amount of work on our part but we jump through all the hoops. We have wondered more than once how people manage to keep their benefits since the rigmarole is a headache. We have used the wrong form version and had it rejected. We have used the correct form version but had it rejected over providing incorrect information. Never mind that is precisely the same way we filled out all the forms which came before it. Today that won’t work. Tomorrow it might but certainly not today. That mentality pervades everything by the way. After every rejection we reapply and finally it gets approved. Sometimes she has no food benefits for a few weeks and that is stressful. She won’t accept our help and heavens only know what she eats – I suspect very little once a day. Then about once a year they decide she’s lying about her disability so they ask her to come down to their office. She has to spend 30 hours each week looking for a job. She’ll go for a few days. Hobble around their office doing her job search until someone with a brain will finally come of their office, wave her disability letter in her face and tell her to go home. She’s too disabled to be looking for a job she can’t hold so go away. Geez. I never even know what to say to that. Oh, you remember that verification letter she needs signed? Without that precious as gold letter she can’t get her food stamps. So far with our fingers crossed we have managed to keep food on her table after a fashion but it is a rocky thing. She budgets carefully and her benefits last more than one month. She's learned to never spend all of food money because more often than not one month's benefit needs to stretch to one and a half or two because of the application/approval process.

I have privately wondered how on earth people defraud either system. They are such a time sucker to even stay on them and the rules are so freaking arbitrary. At the end of it all I know my mother wouldn’t object to peeing in a cup to prove she’s not doing anything wrong other than trying to get by. It’s just one more hoop to jump through for a person who has worked her entire adult life but is now stuck between a rock and a hard place. Personally I don’t think anyone should have to apologize for having health issues and being unable to provide for themselves. Life doesn’t always turn out the way we plan.

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answers from Dallas on

There should be random drug testing, work requirements, community service requirements, limits for time on assistance, and apprenticeship opportunities so people can learn a skill as they work.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

The law in FL was designed to save taxpayer money and yet it has actually already COST the state more money than it has saved.
Oh, and when the state representitives were asked if THEY would submit to a drug test, because after all, their salaries are paid for by the taxpayers, they refused.
Because it's not a law.
I wonder if they will pass that legislation anytime soon?

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answers from San Francisco on

All this sounds great and fine, but it will add a huge cost to implement. Not only do you have to pay the people who are administering the test (watching the peeing so no one can cheat), but also those who transport the specimens to the lab, the lab technicians who run the tests, the second set of technicians who "confirm" "dirty" tests (every dirty test is run through again to confirm) and then the people who process the paperwork and file the results in each claimant's file and then the ones to do the paperwork to terminate benefits.

It is a whole lot of man hours and associated cost. People are screaming now about how much the welfare system costs - it will be much worse if they tried to do this.

Then you get into the fact that they can cut the parents off, but they can't cut the kids off. So the parents are still getting a check, just not as much. It would not be fair to cut the kids off because the parents don't pass a drug screen. And if you say get a payee for the kids of the parents who are kicked off, then there's a whole other group of people who have to be paid.

All in all, it's just not economically feasible to do this.

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answers from Cleveland on

Honestly, I don't have an issue with drug testing to recieve help. What has bothered me is that people can get Social Security for being abusers... drugs & alcohol and if they test clean they will no longer qualify, so they stay abusers so that they can keep getting their check. But there are people like me with brain injuries that can't get help because we "are educated & look to healthy". Or my mom with COPD and arthritis in her hips, knees & back that has fought for 4 years to get Social Security and still hasn't gotten a dime.

Honestly, I really do think the system is messed up! A few years ago before I lost my job... we though we were getting to many food stamps and asked for a reduction in benifits. We were told that they could not reduce them unless we wanted to stop recieving them totally - we still needed help, just not as much as we were getting. Even now we get more then we use a month in food stamps, but I don't want to say something because I don't what them to drop us... we had to turn down cash assistance because we got sanctioned (lost foodstamps and cash assistance w/ healthcare assistance next if we didn't withdrawl for the cash assistance) for my hubby not meeting the requirements the state has for cash assistance because of my health issues and since we were in the middle of switching docs we couldn't their papers signed in time and they wouldn't take or even look at my discharge papers because they weren't their papers. You see we had a 6 week old, 22 mo old, 4 yr old, 6 yr old and 7 yr old in the house (2 story) - I was told I couldn't drive at all for 6 mo min, walk up steps w/o assistastance, carry the babies at all, or go anywhere alone. But the ODJFS said that I would be the "SAHP" and that hubby would have to complete the hours to get the assistance... we tried showing the paper work that said I couldn't be the only one home and why - they said I had no proof that was acceptable and had us sign the papers with the understanding we could change them once the supervisior looked at my papers, but they refused to take them to the supervisior after we signed it. When we got home I tried calling & left message after message and never got called back... it took me nearly 2 months before someone actually called me back & that was after we got the sanction letter in the mail. We still hadn't used the cash on the card or even activated the card... we were told that my papers ment nothing, that they woulldn't change anything - use the money, sign the sanction letter & turn down the cash assistance if we can't meet the hours and he needs to be there for me. So, we did... they took nearly $300 a month away from us for 2 months in food stamps & no really have no income. Hubby does go and mow lawns & do odd jobs when the babies are napping, but he does it in the neighborhood so he can rush home if the kids or I call, but he doesn't make much. We will be lucky to make $4-5K this year and we are trying to keep our house and support our 5 kids... believe me it's not easy - and with my head injury... stress is the number one NO NO.

We do have to send in our finances/income every 6 mo. We have to do a re-application w/ bank info and assest look every year and have to notify them of any changes by the 10th of each month.

But right now I am hopping to heal... I am able to go up stairs, hold my babies, walk the kids to school (with a phone & ID on me) now, but I'm still not to be left alone for long spans or drive. Also, I still have to see the doc a lot - I also have to go to the hospital all next week for tests... so I don't see how either of us could get or keep a job right now. No this is not how we want to live... but it is the hand we were delt and the one we have to play.

I do know - no more babies! And am hoping the bloodclots will go away... I won't ever bleed into my brain again & I won't ever have another mini-streoke or stroke again! And God knows I want to be "normal" again... but only time will tell.

Sorry for rambiling... I would take the test if they asked and I would pass it just as I have passed them when I worked & went to school. If they want a criminal backgroud on me too - I'll give them my thumb print... it's clean too!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Redding on

I believe there should be drug testing, but it should be random and spontaneous without warning. Warning people first gives them too much time to clean up.

I'm not sure how that Florida law works, what happens to a child if the parent pees dirty and doesnt get their money? There has to be a decent back up plan. Would they automatically be forced, as a family, to move to a rehab center? Little kids shouldnt have to suffer for the sins of the parents.

Doing the testing is very time consuming, how do they do that too I wonder?

There are SO many people on welfare in CA, how could you possibly schedule these tests and get them processed and keep the program working smoothly? This is probably why it hasnt been implemented as of yet, lots of loopholes.

(Please keep in mind the reason the country is really in dutch is because of overpaid government, and govt RETIREE pension plans!)

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answers from Houston on

I was drug tested when I started my job, why shouldn't they? Seems only fair.

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answers from Los Angeles on

absolutley. They should have drug testing for welfare and (egads) be a citizen.

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answers from Missoula on

In my opinion, the IDEA is awesome. The reality, not so much.

My biggest thing is that if a parent 'fails' the drug test (or chooses not to even apply for benefits because they know they will fail...) it's their kids who will suffer. The people who happen to be on drugs are usually addicted, and a lot of times they even put that addiction before their kids... So if their food stamps and medical care get cut off, then their kids don't go to doctors, or eat enough.

All the honest people out there receiving welfare will simply pass the test, and continue with life... At even more taxpayer expense...

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answers from Denver on

They should be and being on assitance should NOT be a lifelong option, it should be viewed as a short term, help my life get out of a rut!

I am not sure why this isn't mandatory anyway, every time my husband has been offered a job he had to prove he was not on drugs to get the job! For him to EARN/work for money for our family....crazy how this system is so skewed.

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answers from Los Angeles on

I am fine with it.

Just wish it was actually cost effective!

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answers from Norfolk on

Hi, Fun:
I believe Florida has the law in place that people on public assistance are to be drug tested. Follow up on that.

President Grover Cleveland vetoed legislation in his day designed to spend Federal taxes for private welfare problems. He wrote: "I can find no warrant for such an appropriation in the Constitution, and I do not believe that the power and duty of the General Government ought to be extended to the relief of individual suffering which is in no manner properly related to the public service or benefit. A prevalent tendency to disregard the limited mission of this power and duty should, I think, be steadfastly resisted, to the end that the lesson should be constantly enforced that though the people support the Government the Government should not support the people. The friendliness and charity of our countrymen can always be relied upon to relieve their fellow-citizens in misforturne."

we have allowed our Representatives in Congress to make laws for the Federal Government to spend tax payers money any way they want. The citizens of our country have forgotten to study the Founding Fathers principles of freedom in the Constitution, and failed to exercise their voices for limited govenment and now we have many people who feel they are entitled to take from those who have to give to those who have not.
Thanks for your post.
Good luck.



answers from Indianapolis on

I think they should get tested. The ones on drugs sell their means of getting food for drugs and let their children starve. I've had someone to walk up to me offering to sell their card, I can't think of the name of the card but its likd a debit card. I asked why they just didn't use it to buy food and she told me you can't by liquor with it. I said no but you can feed your kids so I'm all for drug testing.

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