Welfare Overpayments and Fraud (21:VII)
A. What is a Welfare Overpayment?
If a person receives any form of welfare benefit or supplement that he or she is not entitled to, those benefits are considered to be an overpayment. Overpayments can range from a few dollars to tens of thousands of dollars. Many overpayments arise not out of fraud by the welfare recipient but rather out of an honest error on the part of either the recipient or MSDSI. When a person has received an overpayment from MSDSI for any form of benefit under the welfare legislation, the overpayment is a debt owed to the Crown. According to EAA, ss 27-28 and EAPWDA, ss 18-19, the government may recover the debt by deducting funds from subsequent payments of income assistance or pursuing a court action. NOTE: If a client faces a civil lawsuit for a welfare overpayment resulting from failure to provide complete or accurate information, refer him or her to a lawyer at the Community Legal Assistance Society. B.Repayment A greements MSDSI often asks people suspected of having received a welfare overpayment to sign a repayment agreement acknowledging the alleged debt. Before signing a repayment agreement, clients should ask to review MSDSI’s evidence and its reasons for the determination that there is an overpayment and, if possible, get legal advice or help from an advocate. MSDSI can often make errors in its overpayment determinations. In many situations, it is advisable to not sign an acknowledgment. However, if the client does choose to sign an acknowledgment and repay the overpayment, repayment schedules can be negotiated for as low as $10 each month. The MSDSI is not presently charging interest on repayments. C.A ppealing an Overpayment Decision