CLARKSTOWN, N.Y. -- County Executive Ed Day said 2015 was a bad year for welfare cheats in Rockland County and he plans to fight the problem for taxpayers.
According to the Day, investigators in the county's Department of Social Services reviewed more than 1,200 applications -- up 27 percent from 2014 -- denying dozens for food stamp benefits, cash assistance, Medicaid payments and day care subsidies.
"Our overall efforts to fight welfare fraud actually resulted in over $2.2 million in public assistance cost-avoidance savings and overpayments identified in 2015," he added.
Day said that when residents apply for government programs, including Medicaid, SNAP benefits, housing or child care, the County's social welfare examiners are trained to identify criteria that are common indicators of possible fraud. Suspect applicants are "flagged" and referred to the Front End Detection System where investigators evaluate information by interviewing applicants to confirm bank documents, credit reports and, in some cases make field visits.
"During the first two years of my administration, our DSS (Department of Social Sevices) investigators have denied benefits on 209 occasions, without a single taxpayer penny going to the applicant, ultimately saving millions of your dollars. An additional 418 cases on the "back end" resulted in additional actions in 2015, including case closings and the attempted recovery of previously received benefits. (We're clawing back the ill-gotten funds.)," he said.
Some cases were taken a step further, leading to over 20 administrative disqualifications and referral to the Rockland County district attorney for possible criminal charges. With aggressive DSS investigations at the source and prosecution by District Attorney Tom Zugibe, the county is better protecting Rockland County taxpayers, as well as the limited pool of resources available to help the neediest population, the county executive added.
"I want to applaud our Department of Social Services for their hard work in cracking down on those trying to scam the system. I will not tolerate people trying to take money out of the pockets of our taxpayers in Rockland County. Residents should have the utmost confidence that their hard earned tax dollars are spent with accountability," Day added.
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