TALLAHASSEE—The Florida Department of Children and Families’ Office of Public Benefits Integrity (OPBI) recovered more than $15 million dollars in public benefit overpayments in just the first three months of 2017, a record quarter for benefit recovery. Created six years ago, OPBI has been essential to ensuring benefits go to qualified Floridians in need, recovering more than $134 million dollars since the programs’ inception.
“We are committed to making sure that public benefits get to the individuals and families who need them quickly and accurately,” DCF Secretary Mike Carroll said. “So many families count on our services and the public can be assured that the integrity of the public benefits system is sound through the processes and diligence of those in the department, especially within the Office of Public Benefits Integrity.”
Within OPBI, the Benefit Recovery Program focuses on maintaining the integrity of public assistance programs through accurate identification of overpaid benefits; acting as stewards for state and federal taxpayer dollars. Overpayments can be due to administrative error, client error, or fraud. Collection options to recover the public assistance funds include cash payments, online payments, intercepting Lottery winnings, the Treasury Offset Program and future benefit garnishment.
DCF continues to lead the country in recovering overpayments and as a result, Florida is eligible to retain a portion of the funds recovered in the Federal Grants Trust Fund. Over the last three years, OPBI has retained more in recoveries than the state spends to fund the program, netting a positive return on investment.
DCF’s Office of Public Benefits Integrity is responsible for investigating public assistance fraud or misuse regarding the SNAP (Food Assistance), TANF (cash assistance), and Medicaid programs by individuals or merchants. OPBI is dedicated to preventing, detecting, and recovering waste, fraud, and abuse within the public assistance programs.
Floridians are encouraged to report suspected fraud. Public assistance fraud is not a victim-less crime. Real people, real families are hurt when public benefits are provided to unqualified individuals who use fraudulent information or references. For more information about DCF’s public assistance fraud prevention initiatives,or to report suspected fraud, visit www.MyFLFamilies.com/ReportFraud.