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Senators Lankford, Peters, Sinema Applaud Senate Passage of Representative Payee Fraud Prevention Act

WASHINGTON, DC – Senators James Lankford (R-OK), Gary Peters (D-MI), and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ)  applauded Senate passage of their Representative Payee Fraud Prevention Act, a bill that would crack down on fraud and misuse of federal retirement benefits.

“I’m grateful the Senate agreed with our bill to help safeguard federal employee retirement funds from embezzlement,” said Lankford. “Our bill closes a loophole in the law that allows bad actors to get off easy if they embezzle funds from federal retirees. Under the new requirements, it is a felony if a federal employee’s retirement funds issued by the Office of Personnel Management are misused by a representative payee, which is similar to the punishment for misuse if the Social Security Administration or Department of Veterans Affairs issued the payments. This is a simple, commonsense solution.”

“Michiganders work hard to earn a living. At the end of a long career, they deserve the opportunity to retire with dignity and financial security,” said Peters. “Unfortunately, retirees in Michigan and across the country are being taken advantage of by dishonest caretakers who are supposed to act on a retiree’s behalf but instead steal those hard-earned benefits. I’m proud that the Senate has unanimously approved our bipartisan bill to protect vulnerable retirees and crack down on fraud and abuse that affect hardworking Americans.”

“Arizona retirees earned their benefits through a lifetime of hard work and public service. Cracking down on fraud will better protect seniors so they can enjoy healthy and secure retirements,” said Sinema.

Specifically, the legislation would give US Attorneys the statutory authority to prosecute representatives that misuse funds when they are supposed to act on behalf of a retiree who has benefits from the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) or the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS). Because of an increase in embezzlement of government benefits by dishonest representatives of retirees, legislative solutions are needed. This bill classifies the crime of misusing federal retirement funds as a felony punishable by up to five years in prison, which should help deter deceitful caretaker behavior and provide similar protections that Social Security and Veterans Affairs payees currently receive.

Lankford is chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management. The Subcommittee’s jurisdiction includes the federal workforce and federal employee issues. FERS and CSRS are the primary retirement funds of federal workers, and they are managed by the Office of Personnel Management.