According to WJLA-TV, a former Social Security Administration (SSA) worker pleaded guilty last week to soliciting more than $50,000 in bribes from recipients in return for providing them with extra, unauthorized benefits.
The news outlet reported that Christopher Payton, 46, of Mount Rainier, Maryland pleaded guilty in D.C. District Court to one count of bribery.
Payton reportedly worked at the SSA’s Anacostia Office in Southeast Washington. He was in charge of conducting interviews regarding eligibility for benefits, authorizing or disallowing entitlement and reviewing and authorizing Supplemental Security Income (SSI), according to WJLA.
Between January and May 2013, Payton reportedly met with 13 people and told them that if they gave him tips, he would “take care of them.” Once the tips were paid, he reportedly used his access with the agency to cause Supplemental Security Income benefits to go into the individuals’ bank accounts.
“These retroactive payments were not properly authorized, and Payton knew that the people receiving them were not entitled to the extra income,” said Bill Miller, public information officer for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in D.C., according to WJLA.
According to court documents, Payton received $54,662 in cash payments from the individuals for his actions. After the individuals involved in the scheme received payments, they would reportedly give money to Payton.
Payton is scheduled to be sentenced on July 16. He faces 30 to 37 months in prison and a fine of up to $60,000.
How Do I Know If I Qualify for Social Security Benefits?
Cases like this give a black eye to SSA employees and beneficiaries. Most people who receive SSI or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits live modestly, with many living below the poverty line. Anyone who takes advantage of the system should be punished to the fullest extent of the law.
Many people who struggle because of disabilities and are unable to work are eligible to receive Social Security benefits. In order to obtain benefits, a person may be required to schedule a consultative examination with a doctor.
As this case shows, you should not take chances if you want to apply for disability benefits or are in the process of appealing a claim. Many people are naïve or under the impression that they cannot receive benefits, or that their claims will be denied. This is why representation is important. We offer free consultations; you may reach us by phone at (918) 587-0050.
Troutman & Troutman, P.C. – Tulsa Social Security disability attorneys