County benefits by reporting illegal SSI checks

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 19, 2001

Staff Writer

For the past three years, the Pike County Sheriff’s Department has been turning in those illegally receiving Social Security funds.

Pike County Sheriff Russell Thomas said his department has been reporting incarcerated individuals to the Justice Benefits, Inc. and receiving incentives for doing so.

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If an inmate is incarcerated from the first day of the month until the last day of the month, Supplemental Security Income payments are cut.

Each month, the sheriff’s department voluntarily sends a list of each inmate, including Social Security number, date of birth and the dates of incarceration and release.

By reporting those illegally receiving SSI benefits, the county receives $400 per person found to be getting that money unlawfully.

Thomas said his department’s action is a savings to taxpayers because they’re not paying those benefits to an incarcerated individual.

His point is the inmates do not need supplemental incomes if they’re in jail and the payments to the sheriff’s department helps in the purchase of equipment.

When one considers 794 individuals were booked into the Pike County Jail last year, that translates into more money for much-needed equipment.

The daily population of the county jail ranges from 80 to 104 in the 45-person capacity jail. Those behind bars in the Pike County Jail have been charged with crimes including theft, drugs, burglary, robbery, sexual abuse and even murder.

Congress is working to bring a halt to individuals unlawfully receiving federal dollars.

On June 16, 1999, the United States Senate passed a bill that would put SSI funding in place.

A similar bill is being held up in the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee because of a provision that would allow people who leave disability rolls for jobs to retain Medicare and Medicaid benefits. That one provision has an estimated cost of $1.7 billion over 10 years.