Florida’s Mandatory Drug Tests for Welfare Recipients Finds Few Fails


Florida Governor Rick Scott’s plan to test all welfare recipients to see if they are using drugs before they can receive payments is hardly saving the state any money, according to recent reports.

Of the roughly 1000 welfare applicants who have gone through testing so far, only about 2 percent — roughly 20 recipients — did not pass.  At $30 per test, the state paid $28,800 in drug test reimbursements (960 reimbursements at $30 each, since about 2 percent also didn’t finish the application process) for those who did pass, while saving themselves about $66,000 in payments that did not have to be made for the year to those applicants that didn’t make it through for one reason or another (applicants receive $138 a month, or $1656 per year).

Tampa Bay Online breaks down the numbers even further.

Cost of the tests averages about $30. Assuming that 1,000 to 1,500 applicants take the test every month, the state will owe about $28,800-$43,200 monthly in reimbursements to those who test drug-free.

That compares with roughly $32,200-$48,200 the state may save on one month’s worth of rejected applicants.

The savings assume that 20 to 30 people — 2 percent of 1,000 to 1,500 tested — fail the drug test every month. On average, a welfare recipient costs the state $134 in monthly benefits, which the rejected applicants won’t get, saving the state $2,680-$3,350 per month.

But since one failed test disqualifies an applicant for a full year’s worth of benefits, the state could save $32,200-$48,200 annually on the applicants rejected in a single month.

Net savings to the state — $3,400 to $8,200 annually on one month’s worth of rejected applicants. Over 12 months, the money saved on all rejected applicants would add up to $40,800-$98,400 for the cash assistance program that state analysts have predicted will cost $178 million this fiscal year.

In other words, in one year, the program will likely at most save the state 0.06 percent of the overall welfare budget.

Scott’s argument behind fighting for the new law was that welfare recipients are much more likely to be using drugs than the general population, and this test ensures that tax dollars go only to people who are using the assistance for the the right reasons, rather than spending it on potential addictions.  Instead, he has proven that the population of welfare recipients has a much lower rate of drug use than the rest of the population — just 2-4 percent, compared the the general 8 percent statewide.

But the governor did manage to prove one thing beyond a shadow of a doubt — that his stereotype of the every day person on welfare doesn’t in any way match a real life person seeking aid.

Related Stories:

Welfare Recipients Have To Pay Out of Pocket For Mandatory Drug Tests In Florida

Florida Governor Wants to Drug Test All State Employees

Florida Governor May Financially Benefit From Planned State Medicaid Overhaul

Photo credit: wikimedia commons


W. C
W. C11 months ago

Thanks for the information.

William C
William C11 months ago

Thank you for caring.

Lisa G.
Lisa G.6 years ago

From what I have read there is only a 2% failure rate. At a cost of $30 per test for the State and the aggravation and delay for the recipients, I would say that we need to stop testing. Our economy is in no shpae right now to take on the added burden. These people have to have kids in order to qualify so I am sure at least some of the funds are being used to take care of the children. There is no way that a recipient is going to be able to live a cushy life on the paltry amount that is given to them anyways!! Come on Government Leaders, this is definitely a no-brainer!!!!! Please stop wasting taxpayer money!

Eternal Gardener
Eternal G7 years ago


Annmari Lundin
Annmari Lundin7 years ago

Working as a truck driver and a bus driver I've been tested every time I've applied for any of these jobs. No problem. It has to do with public safety.
Welfare applicants should not only be drug tested, they should also have to apply for jobs while receiving public money. Show they actually want to get away from the welfare system and into a job that will provide for them an their families. I don't get why the drug tests have to be so expensive. There has to be more inexpensive alternatives?

Mz Baker
Marie B7 years ago

It still just seems pointless to me because of the small small percentage who failed they had to pay for there own test, however others will be reimbursed that is the extra money I'm talking about we/America cannot afford it!!! the 1980 people who passed the drug test will be reimbursed $59400.00 and the 20 who failed had to pay a whole $600.00 to government and yes they were denied.

I mean no disrespect either. I just know that I wouldn't want to be drug tested and feel distrusted at my word if I say I need help. I wouldn't take no drug test, I shouldn't have to!

people who have had cps called on them over and over should be looked in to more than random people chances are if they are neglecting or abusing their kids, then they are probably using drugs. I mean that's where I'd start!

I'll leave this at that till someone posts something that gets my goat again lol :)

Michelle Knight
Michelle Knight7 years ago

William Y., I have been Drug-Tested for jobs too, had no problem with the prospect, I'm all for Safety precautions being taken for all involved. The Only applicants charged for the tests are the ones who fail it. I have worked for several places who also charged the person being tested for the testing if they failed it! That's only right, the average person applying for anything {Job to Welfare} knows if they have any drugs in thier system & if they read through The paper work before signing it they wil know if they fail the test they will be paying for it. Simple point why waste your own time or anyone elses if you know chances are you are going to test positive? I smoke cigarettes, I can't expect someone else to pay for them, so why should the random Welfare recipient that I am already helping provide livelihood for expect me to be happy about the prospect of paying for drugs for them. MOST OF US ARE TAUGHT FROM AN EARLY AGE, IT'S NON-NEGOTIABLE TO HAVE A HABIT YOU CANNOT SUPPORT FOR YOURSELF!!!

Mz Baker
Marie B7 years ago

All I can say is if you have heard numerous stories of where and how people abuse the system by all means REPORT THEM! I have had so many people say I know this person and that person or several family members who know where to go to use there food stamps to buy drugs


Michelle Knight
Michelle Knight7 years ago

Thank YOU, so VERY MUCH, Robby C., I presently reside in the ATL Metro area after having lived in N. C. where I had the sickening experience of having some Welfare recipients proudly explain to me the NUMEROUS ways they have of CHEATING the system, {rather USING THE HELL OUT OF THOSE OF US WHO ARE WILLING TO WORK!!!!!}. I also think/know/& see that it seems to be perfectly acceptable for ILLEGAL Aliens {giving them Immigrant status, implies that they have availed themselves of the proper means to be in the country}, to be here & receive benefits from the hard work of CITIZENS, who would NOT willingly SUPPORT them!!! I for one would NOT!!!!! As far as the familial protections that the Govt. is now considering affording these Aliens by virtue of sneaking over here & having kids, I say, "We have more than enough B.S. laws & regulations in place to assist illegal actions here already!" "HOW ABOUT YOU GO BACK TO THE DRAWING-BOARD & COME UP WITH A PLAN THAT DOES NOT FURTHER DEPLETE THE QUALITY OF LIFE, MY FAMILY CAN HAVE!!!!!!!!!!" My children are born & raised U.S. CITIZENS, my younger Daughter wants to attend college, Who in the hell is pushing/pulling/trading/negotiating/or sacrificing to make sure she can become an Attorney? Don't worry I'll wait for a reply!!! I raised my Daughters as a Single/WORKING-Parent, the Govt. wasn't & isn't willing to even try to assist me with making sure My CHILDREN & I could eat, {LAUGHING!!!!!}, BECAUSE I WORKED &a

Robby C.
Past Member 7 years ago

Sounds like they only have to pay for them if the fail. though. Otherwise, they are reimbursed.

This whole thing poses a serious issue- the truth is, it's wrong to test people to get jobs to begin with. But, since we already do that, why would one getting welfare NOT be subjected to same tests? Ya know, if we weaned out some of the drug addicts in welfare, that money could be better spent elsewhere- maybe legitimate welfare recipients could get more...? But, if we don't drug test welfare recipients, then we should no longer drug test people for the jobs from which the welfare money orginates.

Furthermore, I do agree w/Mz B's sentiment when it comes to our supporting illegals. That has to stop. How many years are we going to allow ourselves to stay in this depression before we start cutting costs in various places. There's no call for that. We have legal citizens starving to death who can't get assistance, oftentimes after having worked lifetimes (paid taxes, etc) here, but illegals seem to bypass them & get whatever they want. I'm not against immigration, but I am seriously against illegaly entry & even moreso, rewarding it...