The Florida Department of Children and Families’ Office of Public Benefits Integrity (OPBI) has recovered more than $15 million dollars in public benefit over-payments in just the first three months of 2017.
The figure represents the highest amount ever recovered in one quarter since the office was created six years ago. Since that time the OPBI has recovered more than $134 million dollars.
“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.