Senators Lankford, Peters, Sinema introduce the Representative Payee Fraud Prevention Act

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

“Most Americans work toward their retirement and count on their retirement funds. We should ensure federal employee’s retirement funds are secure by protecting them from the embezzlement of their benefits,” said Lankford. “Currently, the misuse of funds by a representative payee is punishable if the Social Security Administration or Veterans Affairs issues the payments, but not if those payments are issued by the Office of Personnel Management. This is a straightforward, commonsense bill that closes this loophole.”

“Hardworking families in Michigan and around the country depend on their hard-earned retirement benefits for financial security in their later years,” said Peters. “As lawmakers, we have a responsibility to ensure that those who have dedicated their lives to public service have access to the funds they’ve earned after a lifetime on the job. Our commonsense, bipartisan legislation would protect vulnerable retirees and crack down on fraud and abuse by reminding bad actors that there is a price to pay for this kind of unconscionable breach of trust.”

Specifically, the legislation would give US Attorneys the statutory authority to prosecute retiree representatives who misuse funds from the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) and the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS). Because of an increase in embezzlement of government benefits by dishonest representatives of retirees, legislative solutions are needed.

Just like millions of Americans in the private sector, 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 support them 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 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’re managed by the Office of Personnel Management.