The Social Security Administration (SSA) pays a variety of benefits to individuals, including retirement benefits, disability benefits, and dependent benefits. Social Security benefits are a vital source of income for many individuals and families. However, some individuals are accused of abusing or “using” the systems to obtain benefits fraudulently. Because the SSA is governed by federal law, Social Security fraud is often a federal crime. Our New York white collar crimes attorney discusses some of the types of Social Security fraud and the penalties a person may face in this article.
What is Social Security Fraud?
Social Security fraud may involve a variety of criminal acts. In many cases, individuals are accused of providing false or misleading information to obtain benefits. Concealing evidence or facts that could affect eligibility for benefits is also considered Social Security fraud. A representative payee, the person who is appointed to manage a person’s Social Security benefits, may be accused of fraud if the representative payee misuses benefits or conceals information about the person to continue receiving benefits.
Examples of Social Security fraud may include:
- Hiding assets and income to obtain Social Security disability benefits.
- Failing to tell the SSA when a person dies so that benefits continue being paid.
- Failure to report earned income while receiving disability benefits.
- Receiving Social Security benefits for a child that is not within your care.
- Using face Social Security cards or stolen Social Security numbers.
- Failing to report when an individual enters jail or an assisted living facility.
- Making false statements regarding health or mental conditions to qualify for disability benefits.
The Office of the Inspector General for the Social Security Administration investigates allegations of Social Security fraud. If you receive notice that you are being investigated, you may want to consult with a New York Criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to discuss potential defenses to fraud charges.
Penalties for Convictions of Social Security Fraud
The penalties and convictions for Social Security fraud vary depending on the crime involved. A person may be charged under state welfare fraud laws and various federal statutes. Felony penalties on the federal level for Social Security fraud can carry up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. In addition, you may also be required to pay back all benefits received because of fraudulent acts, in addition to civil fines.
Contact a New York Criminal Defense Attorney To Discuss Defenses Against Charges Of Social Security Fraud
The best ways to avoid being accused of Social Security fraud is to provide all relevant information, provide accurate information, keep in contact with the SSA, and report any changes related to your medical condition, mental health condition, and financial situation.
If you are charged with a crime, you are not guilty until the government proves your guilt in court. Many people assume they have no choice but to pay the fines to avoid jail. However, the best choice is to consult an attorney to discuss potential defense strategies.
Many cases of Social Security fraud involve honest mistakes because a person does not understand the laws and regulations regarding benefits.
Before you assume that you are guilty of fraud, schedule a consult with a New York criminal defense attorney to discuss all your options. You may have one or more valid defenses to charges of Social Security fraud. An attorney can help you explore your options and choose an option that gives you the best chance of a positive outcome for your circumstances.
Posted in: White Collar Crime