Special Investigations Division - Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can a person be employed and still get assistance?

A: Yes, up to specified income limits and all income must be reported. Programs are designed to assist you in achieving full independence. We also offer supportive programs for clients in transition.

Q: Am I still able to receive benefits if my child is in high school or college and employed?

A: Yes, under certain conditions this is possible. Remember that all income for every family member must be reported so that an accurate eligibility decision can be made.

Q: How do I report suspected fraud?

A: Click on Reporting Suspected Fraud.

Q: Does anyone get sentenced to jail for welfare fraud - my neighbor was caught, so why is he not in jail?

A: Penalties vary from repayment to incarceration and are the purview of the courts. Social Services can also impose additional sanctions.

Q: The person next door has an adult living in their home that contributes to expenses, is this fraud?

A: In order to be eligible, a client must report all household members. Some individuals may not be legally responsible for any expenses. An investigation will determine the correct composition and income for the household. Overgrants and fraud will be pursued.

Q: Last week I reported my neighbor was working - nothing's been done to date, why not?

A: We fully investigate prior to contacting the client. Evidence is reviewed by the Erie County District Attorney's office for possible prosecution and may take considerable time.

Q: If a person was committing fraud in the past, why do they still get assistance?

A: Only current circumstances are used to determine current eligibility. These may include specific sanctions against specific types of aid.

Q: The rent is not being paid to me. Can you help me?

A: Welfare regulations state that so long as a client has a shelter expense they are legally entitled to this allowance, even if it is not paid to the landlord. This would be a debt owed to the landlord. The landlord is free to take legal action to recover what was not paid.

Q: Is it fraud when a client receives a rent allowance but does not pay their rent to the landlord?

A: No. Fraud is when someone receives benefits they are not entitled to.

Q: I called in a complaint - can you tell me what is happening?

A: Laws regarding confidentiality prohibit the release of this information. To report additional information, click on Reporting Suspected Fraud. Please tell us this is "added information" and be sure to include full client information so we can connect it with the original report.

Q: There appears to be drug-related activity in the client's home. What should I do?

A: Call the local police.

Q: Can a person own a home and receive financial assistance?

A: Yes, although the Department of Social Services under most circumstances would place a lien against the home. Any rental income received must also be disclosed.

Q: Will the Department of Social Services pay Burial Expenses for someone?

A: Active clients and some indigent individuals may be eligible for assistance. An application must be made to determine eligibility. The family, an acquaintance, or supportive organizations may do this. Up to $900.00 is available for direct burial services and payment is made directly to the funeral director. You must contact a funeral director of your choice and be sure they are knowledgeable in this application process. Call [716] 858-1843 for additional information.

Q: Why must I repay an Overgrant that was an ECDSS error?

A: Under law, you are responsible to repay any overgrants, no matter what the cause.

Q: Can someone get aid from two localities at the same time?

A: No, you should tell your worker if you plan to be out of the county for more than one [1] month.

Q: Do I have to report my wages right away?

A: Yes, report all changes in household wages to your worker immediately so they can determine your continuing eligibility.