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There are about 60 million people in the U.S. that receive some type of social security, including about 13 million who receive disability payments from the Social Security Administration. With this many people getting benefits, it is inevitable that fraud will happen at some point. It isn’t common, but it is a serious crime that comes with strong penalties and should be avoided at all costs. Getting statistics on fraud is difficult because although the SSA is serious about finding and prosecuting fraudulent claims, everything is lumped into a category known as “Improper Payments”, which could result from fraud, misinformation, or a number of other things.
What is Disability Fraud?
Anyone who obtains or attempts to obtain SSA benefits that they are not entitled to is committing disability fraud. This is a very broad umbrella, and there are many different ways that disability fraud can actually be committed. To be charged with this crime, it must be proven that someone has:
-Provided false financial, medical, or personal information or documents to Social Security
-Obtained benefits by using someone else’s personal information or social security number
-Concealed information that could assist in determining eligibility
-Mishandled benefits or information as a representative of another individual
The misuse of the disability system costs taxpayers millions of dollars every single year and the government takes these charges very seriously. Anyone charged with disability fraud could face fines of up to $250,000 along with a prison sentence of up to five years. There are additional penalties for those in a position of trust, such as an employee of the SSA or the representative of an incapacitated person. Additionally, the severity of the punishment will depend on the type of fraud and how much money was involved. The best thing that you can do if you are facing disability fraud charges is to contact an experienced attorney right away. We can help you explore your defense options to get the best outcome.
Examples of SSD Fraud
With so many elements involved in determining what counts as fraud for the social security disability system, it can be hard to understand what actually qualifies. The general guidelines above help prosecutors file charges and pursue cases. Here are some more specific examples of how you could be charged with fraud.
-Lying on a benefits application
-Misusing someone else’s benefits
-Buying and selling social security numbers and/or cards
-Illegal activity by SSA employees
-Impersonating or bribing an SSA agent or employee
-Working under the table while receiving disability payments
-Not reporting workers’ compensation benefits
-Falsifying medical or insurance records
-Not notifying SSA of changes to your income or medical condition
The Social Security Administration is always seeking tips from the public to help reduce disability fraud, so it is never safe to assume you can get away with it. Fraud charges aren’t easy to fight due to the strict laws and determination of the federal prosecution team. You need an experienced disability fraud lawyer who can help you navigate the laws and understand what you are up against.
Federal Charges are Serious
Being charged with any crime is a big deal, but federal fraud charges are very serious. With huge fines and the potential for up to 5 years in a federal prison, you need a strong defense. These charges should not be taken lightly, and you should talk to a lawyer as soon as possible to see what your options are. We know the laws and have years of experiencing helping people get the outcome they deserve from their fraud case. If you have been charged with disability fraud, contact our team of Philadelphia disability fraud lawyers today.