The Legal Section comprises four units: Family Law, Legal, Special Investigations and Resource Recovery. Also under Legal Services is Child Support Enforcement.
The Child Support Unit works with Temporary Assistance consumers, Medicaid recipients and private clients. Duties include establishing paternity and initiating and enforcing child support orders.
The Family Law Division is responsible for representing the Department in Family Court on matters of paternity, support, child abuse and neglect, foster care, severance of parental rights, persons in need of supervision (PINS) and juvenile delinquency (JD) cases.
The Legal Department is responsible for any and all litigation by or against the Department, Article 78 Proceedings, Article 81 Proceedings, administrative hearings, provides general legal advice to all other Units of the Department, and prepares and processes contracts with agencies.
A subdivision of the Legal Department is the Fair Hearings Unit that represents the Department in administrative reviews requested by applicants or recipients of assistance who are not satisfied with the agency's actions. This Unit tries to resolve disagreements to avoid a hearing, helping reduce administrative costs, and providing better and improved service to the Department's customers.
The Legal Department also oversees the operations and functions of Units which enforce Federal, State, and local laws, rules and regulations and procedures regarding assistance payments made through the Department, except child support. The enforcement Units under the direction of this office are Special Investigations and Resource Recovery.
Resource Recovery Unit
The Resource Unit assures that any non-exempt income or assets of a customer are utilized to reduce the need for assistance. Recoupment is made from recipients when assets or resources are later uncovered, i.e. stocks, bonds, bank accounts, real property, lawsuits and estates or other claims. The Unit also files liens, judgments, assignments, estate claims and mortgages in appropriate cases to preserve the rights of the Department.
The Cash Management System (CAMS) coordinates and oversees all aspects of overpayment and advance payment collections for all programs, including Temporary Assistance, Food Stamps, Child Care Assistance and Medicaid. The CAMS Unit is responsible for following up on all repayment agreements, establishing contact with non-paying consumers, coming to a mutually acceptable repayment arrangement, and as a last resort, referring matters for civil litigation when deemed necessary.
Special Investigations Unit
The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) is comprised of the Fraud Section and the Front End Detection System (FEDS) Section.
The Fraud Section investigates complaints regarding possible welfare abuse. Cases in which fraud have been clearly established are referred to the District Attorney's office for possible criminal prosecution. This may involve charges of unlawfully obtaining Temporary Assistance or grand larceny and usually results in, at a minimum, recoupment of assistance incorrectly paid. In other cases, the Fraud Unit attempts to recover all overpayments of assistance made to customers. Recovery may be made by reducing Temporary Assistance grants or by individual agreement to repay the agency directly.
The FEDS system detects possible fraud or ineligibility at the application stage to prevent the initial payment of improper benefits by the Department.
If you suspect fraud is taking place, please click "Report Fraud" on the left hand side of this page.