COUNTY PRESS RELEASE
Rockland County Executive Ed Day last week announced that the County Department of Social Services collected or saved a record $1.5 million in taxpayer-funded welfare payments between January 1, 2014 and October 31, 2014, a 150-percent increase over the same time period last year.
“I am proud to report these savings achieved by our Department of Social Services’ Special Investigations Unit thorough innovative and aggressive enforcement,” said County Executive Day. “Welfare fraud is a crime against our trust and our generosity. And in Rockland County, it’s a crime that will not be tolerated.”
Since January 1, 2014 the Department reports that $724,062 of the total cost-avoidance savings were achieved through Front End Detection System investigations, primarily involving the Child Care Subsidy Program, resulting in 111 denied applications – 161-percent and 141-percent increases from last year respectively. The Front End Detection System does an in-depth review of a person’s eligibility when applying for public assistance.
Results were accumulated from all areas of Rockland County and across all DSS programs. Additional results from the Special Investigations Unit include:
Received and initiated investigations on 823 referrals and complaints – an 8-percent increase over same period in 2013
Completed 803 investigations – a 71-percent increase from last year
Identified 152 overpayments totaling $628,656 in overpayment dollars – 17-percent increases from previous year
Collected $266,451 in restitution
“It’s been a focus of my administration from the first day I took office to protect the residents of this county from fraud and abuse of our public benefits systems. I will continue to work with DSS Commissioner Susan Sherwood and District Attorney Tom Zugibe to root out those gaming the system.”
“We are here to help those in need in our county,” Commissioner Sherwood said, “but we also have the duty to protect the integrity of our programs and the improper expense of taxpayer funds. I would like to take this opportunity to applaud the work of our Special Investigations Unit staff, under the leadership of Steve Hamilton, SIU Supervisor.”
Sherwood explained that when applying for assistance with programs including Medicaid, SNAP benefits, housing or child care, social welfare examiners are trained to identify certain criteria that could be indicators of possible fraud. Suspect applicants are then referred to the Front End Detection System for further examination where investigators confirm application information by interviewing applicants to confirm bank documents, credit reports and in some cases make field visits.
False application information may result in denial of benefits.