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Tips for Dealing With Government Offices and Agencies

Authored By: Legal Services Alabama LSC Funded

Information

In order to receive certain benefits, you must give an agency some information about yourself. It is very important to give correct information to agencies. This document contains tips on how to do this.

It is very important to give correct information to agencies

  • To get help from the government, you must give an agency some information about yourself.
  • "Help from the government" includes Food Stamps, Family Assistance, Medicaid, Social Security, Section 8 and Public Housing.
  • Sometimes, a worker will ask your family size, family income, whether you own a home and what other property you own.
  • The worker uses this information to see if you can get help from the agency and how much you will receive.

The government is looking for cheaters

  • Some agencies have set up "hot lines" so that neighbors can report cheaters.
  • Some agencies use computers to check on the information you give.
  • If you make a statement to an agency that is not true, or if you don't tell the agency some information just so you can get benefits, this may be fraud.
  • Fraud is a crime. You can get into a lot of trouble for fraud.

How can I avoid trouble?

  • Answer questions honestly and correctly.
  • Give accurate information.
  • If you are not sure what you need to report, ask.
  • Correctly report changes soon after the change occurs.
  • Keep a copy or notes every time you report something to an agency

If the government accuses me of cheating, what can I do?

  • Don't share information with just anybody. Remember: silence is golden.
  • If an agency accuses you of cheating, this is a very serious matter.
  • You should see a lawyer (contact Legal Services) right away.

Reviewed August 2008


AlabamaLegalHelp.org offers legal information, not legal advice. We try hard to make sure this website accurately explains your rights and options. However, the site does not apply the law to your personal facts. For this sort of legal advice, you should call a lawyer. To apply for free legal services in Alabama, call the Legal Services Alabama office that is closest to where you live OR call toll-free 1-866-456-4995. You can also apply online at intake.alsp.org.

Last Review and Update: Aug 18, 2008