The Journal Gazette
Wednesday, March 16, 2016 1:52 am

Eluders of law denied benefits in Coats' bill

Brian Francisco | Washington editor

Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., announced Tuesday he has introduced legislation that would deny Social Security benefits to anyone who faces an arrest warrant issued on felony or parole violation charges.

Coats said the legislation would help save taxpayers $4.8 billion over 10 years if enacted. It also would prohibit the payment of Supplemental Security Income and World War II special benefits to the targets of outstanding arrest warrants.

"Hoosier taxpayers should not pay for disability and retirement benefits for those running from the law," Coats said in a statement. "It is outrageous that individuals subject to an arrest warrant or violating their parole are receiving these benefits."

The Social Security Act prohibits the payment of benefits to people who flee to avoid prosecution for a felony charge or to avoid custody after a felony conviction. It also denies benefits for people who violate conditions of their probation or parole.

Coats’ office said his bill was introduced in response to three recent court rulings that "have in effect expanded the eligibility of fugitive felons for government benefits."

Matt Lahr, Coats’ communications director, said in an email that the bill "would restore the intent of the statute by changing the language in the law from ‘fleeing to avoid’ prosecution to ‘the subject of an arrest warrant for the purpose of’ prosecution. This will clarify that the law applies not only to those in active flight but also to those who have an outstanding arrest warrant for a felony or another serious crime."

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