Benefits Integrity Program division completes 4,385 investigations

The OIG’s Benefits Program Integrity (BPI) division completed 4,385 investigations in the first quarter of fiscal year 2022, involving some form of benefit recipient overpayment or fraud allegation. Ninety-one percent of all investigations completed involved unreported income or an issue with the reported household composition. Household composition cases usually deal with an unreported household member who has income or could also include a reported household member who does not actually live in the same residence. Both instances cause the household to receive more benefits than they are eligible for. For the first quarter, BPI referred eight investigations for prosecution and 141 investigations for administrative disqualification hearing.

The OIG’s EBT Trafficking Unit used data analysis to identify a trend in some clients using social media to sell Pandemic Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (P-SNAP) benefits. Reports show some clients were awarded several thousand dollars of monthly benefits and would sell them for fifty cents on the dollar. Investigators continue to review these incidents and will take appropriate action.

Investigators also uncovered a client in Harrison County who intentionally violated program rules by omitting that the father of her children was part of their household on benefits applications from December 2016 to January 2020. As a member of the household, the father’s earnings should have been included on forms filed with the state. During the investigation, the OIG obtained witness statements and evidence that proved the father was living in the home and receiving income. The client waived her rights to an administrative hearing to contest the findings. In September, the client was disqualified from the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) for 12 months and ordered to pay back $36,453 in SNAP benefits and $2,158 in Texas Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits.

A similar program violation occurred in Bexar County where the OIG resolved a case where a client committed fraud by failing to report her children’s father and his associated income as part of her SNAP benefits applications. From March 2019 to February 2021, the client received a total of $24,011 in excessive SNAP benefits. After being presented with evidence proving the father and his income should have been reported on the applications, the client signed a waiver of disqualification hearing, agreed to repay $24,011, and was disqualified from the SNAP program for 12 months.