Part of the role of the Social Security Administration (SSA) is to weed out claims of those who are not truly disabled in order to help those who are truly disabled. Some applicants for Social Security disability are genuinely ill or impaired but just don't meet the SSA's stringent requirements for disability, but others commit fraud by claiming to be disabled and unable to work when they are not (this is called "malingering"). There are other forms of disability fraud as well.
What Is Considered Disability Fraud?
The SSA considers these situations to be disability fraud.
- Making false statements to the SSA.
- Alleging a disability is worse than it is.
- Hiding facts that affect eligibility from the SSA.
- Receiving Social Security benefits for a child not under one's care.
- Failing to notify the SSA of a change in material circumstances.
- Cashing the check of a deceased person who was receiving Social Security.
- Concealing a marriage that would end Social Security benefits.
- Using the Social Security number of another person.
- Claiming to be endorsed by the SSA or misusing the symbols that identify the SSA.
Of these, the disability fraud that Social Security applicants are most often found guilty of are making false statements and concealing information that can affect eligibility.
Putting False Information on Claims
It is considered fraud if a person knowingly states that they:
- have less income than they do.
- are not working when they are.
- are not married when they are.
- can work less than they can.
Hiding Information or Events That Could Affect Eligibility
It can be considered fraud if a person doesn’t tell the SSA information that could prevent or stop disability benefits. For example, you are committing fraud if you fail to report that:
- you are working or have returned to work
- your condition has significantly improved
- you received unexpected income or assets
- you started to receive a pension
- you got married
- you got divorced
- you received a workers’ compensation settlement
- you were put in jail, or
- you moved overseas.
Consequences of Committing Disability Fraud
Fines or even jail time may be imposed if the SSA finds that disability fraud occurred. For instance, when a person makes a false statement on a Social Security application, after stating that the information is true and correct, he or she can be liable for a crime. A
Also, the SSA will not consider any statements it believes are fraudulent to decide a claim. The SSA will deny a disability claim if the agency determines it contains fraudulent information. Even years later, the SSA can reverse an approval of disability benefits if it finds the disability applicant committed fraud in applying.
Help from a Disability Lawyer
If you have been accused of disability fraud, it's important to promptly seek the advice and counsel of an attorney who can defend you and possibly help you recover benefits to which you are entitled, if applicable to your situation.