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What Disability Fraud Looks Like
The basic concept of this type of crime is simple: you are lying or not disclosing information to obtain benefits from the Social Security Disability system. Here are some examples that can help you better understand the charges:
-If you lie, outright, on your SSD application for benefits, you are clearly committing fraud. For example, claiming that you make $10,000 more than you actually do to obtain higher benefit payments is considered fraud. Unintentional misinformation can still be considered fraud, so be very careful when filling out your application.
-Providing false medical records or falsifying documents to prove disability. Someone who goes to a doctor actively seeking a disability diagnosis might be inclined to pretend that symptoms are worse than they are or talk the doctor into lying on the medical chart so that they can get approval. This is definitely fraud, and both parties will be held accountable.
-If your loved one passes away, you are required to report the death so that their SSD benefits can be terminated. If you fail to report the death and continue collecting benefits, you are committing fraud. You need to notify the Social Security Administration of a death as soon as possible to avoid being even unintentionally charged with this type of crime.
-Using another person’s social security number to obtain benefits or cashing someone else’s benefits check for your own financial gain, even with their permission, is considered fraud.
-Changes in your medical condition or employment status that are not reported to Social Security can be considered disability fraud. For example, if you do not get enough benefits and decide to take on a part time job, you need to notify the SSA immediately. Working “under the table” is considered fraud. The same goes for your medical condition. If changes happen that improve your condition, you need to report them right away. It may affect the benefit amount you receive, and you could be charged with fraud for taking higher payments than you should have been given.
Fraud Penalties are Serious
The Social Security Administration takes disability fraud very seriously. This crime can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the severity of the case and the amount of money involved. Typical penalties include:
-Up to 5 years in jail
-Fines up to $250,000
-A combination of both
If fraud is committed by someone in a position of trust, such as an SSA employee or a doctor, the penalties are often much higher. These include:
-Up to 10 years in jail
-Civil court lawsuit
-Fines up to $7,500 per false statement or omission
What to Do Next
Anyone that is charged with disability fraud needs to contact a lawyer right away. They can help you better understand the charges against you as well as what your options may be for a defense in court. If your situation was unintentional, they can even help you explain to the court and the SSA that you did not intend to commit the crime. This could result in lower fines and penalties, and might even lead to the dismissal of charges in some cases. Contact our Pennsylvania disability fraud lawyers today to discuss your case and learn more.