So the move recommended to her by state-funded social workers was to quit her job, stop seeing patients and drop below the poverty line in order to qualify for state aid
I acknowledge your larger point, but this is probably exactly what the social worker should have advised. Our social services are a lot like our legal system, we've arranged for them not to try for desirable outcomes by design but through conflict. Programs are designed and administered by accountants and business school types who prioritize minimizing the amount of money they have to spend, and we depend on caseworkers subverting their efforts in order to actually get people the services they need. I don't know if it's possible to do otherwise in America, since a majority of our legislators think business administration is the ideal model for governing. I know that it means good social workers have to be the most benevolent kind of shady.