Senators James Lankford’s (R-OK) and Heidi Heitkamp’s (D-ND) Representative Payee Fraud Prevention Act of 2015, a bill that would crack down on federal retirement benefit fraud and misuse, has passed the Senate by unanimous consent. The bill was introduced by the Senators on June 15 and approved by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on June 24.
“I’m pleased the Senate has passed this bill to protect the retirement and annuities of federal employees all across America from caretaker misuse and fraud,” said Lankford. “We must fight against the embezzlement of federal government civil worker benefits to ensure a stable retirement for them and their families.”
Specifically, the legislation would give U.S. Attorneys the statutory authority to prosecute retiree representatives who misuse funds from the Federal Employees Retirement System and the Civil Service Retirement System. Because of an increase in embezzlement of government benefits by dishonest representatives of retirees, legislative solutions are needed to help prevent the misuse of these retirement funds that the government pays.
Just as millions of Americans do, many individuals across the country work for decades as federal employees to earn a living and save for retirement. When they retire, those saved funds and pensions help them support themselves and their families. However, retirees who require a financial representative to help manage these payments – as well as minors and those with mental disabilities who receive needed federal benefits – currently don’t have the protections they need to make sure their payments are handled properly. This bill classifies the crime of misusing federal retirement funds as a ‘felony’ which will deter deceitful caretaker behavior and provide the same protections that Social Security and Veterans payees currently receive.
Lankford and Heitkamp are chairman and ranking member, respectively, of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management. The Subcommittee jurisdiction includes the federal workforce and federal employee issues. FERS and CSRS are the primary retirement funds of federal workers and they’re managed by the Office of Personnel Management.