One reason – some might say the biggest – for the financial problems that Social Security programs face is the fraud and other criminal activity that takes money away from legitimate beneficiaries. Two weeks ago a federal jury found a Nebraskan woman and her husband guilty of defrauding the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) and making false statements on SSA forms.
The woman began receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSDI”) benefits in 2002 after doctors removed a malignant brain tumor. SSDI benefits provide financial support for disabled Americans who are unable to work. When beneficiaries return to work, in most cases, they cannot continue to receive SSDI benefits. The Nebraskan woman began working the same year as her operation and will now have a criminal record for the rest of her life for failing to inform the SSA.
After her 2002 operation, the woman started working at an asphalt and concrete paving company.
Neither she nor her husband notified the SSA of her work, and they continued to report on their SSA forms that she had not worked since 2002. Over the course of the couple’s fraud, they collected $115,010.40 in SSDI benefits.
Unfortunately, the SSA does not have the means yet to bump up its efforts to catch this sort of fraud and ensure that taxpayer money is going towards those in need. The slap on the wrist that most people who commit disability benefits fraud receive from federal courts is also unfortunate. In this case, the woman’s husband pled guilty and received five years of probation. She is awaiting her sentence, but, in the absence of a criminal record, is unlikely to receive any jail time. It is also not likely that the SSA will get its money back anytime soon in the event that the judge orders her to pay restitution.
Troutman & Troutman, P.C. – Tulsa Social Security Disability attorneys