A federal judge in Washington DC handed down a harsh sentence to a 61-year-old woman for her lengthy, fraudulent receipt of Social Security disability benefits. While many criminals who steal disability benefits end up with no prison time, this woman will be serving two and a half years in a federal prison for her theft of disability benefits running from 1995 until 2011. The total amount of her theft was $305,844.40, and she has to repay that amount within three years, according to the judge’s order.
The crime stems from the woman’s use of her sister’s name and Social Security number, which the woman had been using since 1989. She applied for Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSDI”) benefits in 1994 in her sister’s name, misleading medical experts and the SSA as to her true identity. She received those benefits for 16 years. The woman had also applied for SSDI and Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) benefits in her own name in 1992 and again in 2007, but the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) denied her applications.
An investigator with the SSA pointed out that the average disability beneficiary costs the government about $130,000. When the SSA can catch criminals like in this case, the SSA can recoup some of this money and put it towards disabled Americans and their families who are truly in need. Additionally, the investigator noted that many of these investigations start with a tip from a friend or co-worker who suspects fraud. While the SSA may not catch every criminal, it always welcomes tips that make its job of providing benefits to legitimate beneficiaries a little easier.
Ultimately, the SSA needs to catch these criminals towards the beginning of their activities, since the costs to investigate and prosecute these crimes also add to wasted money. Have you received disability benefits? What parts of the process did you feel could be improved?
Troutman & Troutman, P.C. – Tulsa Social Security disability lawyers