Here at Disability Associates, a Social Security disability law office in Towson, MD, we are dedicated to providing our clients with as much information about disability law as possible to ensure that they are well informed about all aspects of it as they work with us to build their case. One of the things that we find very important to go over is Social Security disability benefits fraud. What is Social Security Disability Benefits fraud?
What Is Social Security Disability Benefits Fraud?
You have probably seen a lot of discussion in the news or on social media regarding Social Security fraud. What’s that all about? Well, let’s talk about it. There are certain situations where Social Security will investigate cases and while we will be discussing specifically Social Security disability, this type of investigation is often prevalent in cases of Social Security retirement.
Social Security will usually get information about a case from someone concerned about fraud being committed by someone that they know. It usually comes up in a situation where someone has been awarded disability benefits but has gone back to work without ever reporting that to Social Security, usually working under the table.
A number of years ago, there was a very big problem in the New York area with first responders (firefighters and EMS workers) who were legitimately approved for Social Security disability, but their conditions had improved over time, allowing a small number of people to work under the table without reporting to the SSA. Some of these jobs were even physically intensive, some being construction jobs and landscaping jobs involving heavy lifting.
When you are knowingly accepting Social Security payments and not reporting to them that you have gone back to work, that can be investigated as a fraud case. A fraud case can come with a lot of penalties, both criminal and financial. If your condition has improved and you would like to go back to work, you can. However, you need to disclose this information with the SSA or you will be investigated for Social Security benefits fraud. This is a legal obligation that you accept when you are initially awarded your benefits.
In many cases, telling SSA that you have gone back to work once will not be enough. Like any system, it is an imperfect system and mistakes are made. You will need to continue to tell the SSA that you have gone back to work until they stop sending you money. If you do receive this money after disclosing your improved condition to the SSA, DO NOT SPEND THAT MONEY. While you will not technically be committing fraud if you do (since you have already disclosed your update to the SSA), Social Security will eventually need that money back. We advise that you put that money in a separate account and hold onto it until they ask for it back.
About Disability Associates
Our team at Disability Associates views our clients as more than just another case. We build genuine relationships with each and every one of our clients to ensure that they are comfortable during this stressful time. We value honesty, good communication, and compassion, and implement these values with every client we have. In building these relationships, our clients trust that we will provide competent representation and will do our best to get them the Social Security benefits they deserve.