Social Security Fraud
The Social Security Administration (SSA) provides benefits to millions of people across the country. Unfortunately, the process of filing for benefits is complicated and many people unwittingly commit Social Security fraud, which can have serious consequences, so if you are being investigated for fraud-related activities, you should contact an experienced white collar crime attorney who may be able to get your charges reduced or even dismissed.
Making False Statements on Claims
When a person applies for Social Security benefits, they are required to acknowledge that all information submitted is true and correct. Reporting false information can constitute fraud in the following cases:
- An individual states that they are unmarried on their application when they are married or are living as a married couple with another person;
- An applicant claims to be blind and unable to drive when in reality, the individual possesses a driver’s license and regularly operates a vehicle;
- An applicant states that they have no income when they actually earn money from an outside source, such as an insurance policy or rental payments;
- An individual does not report that they are working;
- A person does not report that they are in jail; or
- An applicant fails to notify the SSA of the death of a beneficiary and continues to receive the decedent’s Social Security checks.
These are only some of the situations that can qualify as Social Security fraud, so if you are being accused of making a false statement on your application, it is important to speak with a white collar crime attorney who can help you formulate a defense.
Misuse of Benefits by a Representative
In many cases, Social Security recipients are unable to manage their own financial affairs and so appoint a relative or friend to handle benefit-related matters. These representatives are required to fulfill certain duties, including:
- Determining the beneficiary’s total needs;
- Using the benefits exclusively for the beneficiary’s best interests;
- Remaining aware of the beneficiary’s needs and condition;
- Notifying the SSA of any change in the representative’s circumstances that would affect performance of their responsibilities;
- Reporting any events that affect the amount of benefits received by the beneficiary; and
- Providing the SSA with written reports explaining how the benefits were used.
Representatives must also apply all SSA payments to the beneficiary’s current immediate and essential needs, such as:
- Shelter and utilities;
- Medical care and insurance;
- Rehabilitation expenses;
- Personal hygiene; and
- Dental care.
If there are benefits left over after these needs are met, the representative is required to save or invest the remaining funds in a trust for the sole benefit of the beneficiary. Representatives are also expressly prohibited from:
- Using a beneficiary’s funds for their own personal expenses;
- Placing a beneficiary’s SSA funds in the representative’s own personal account;
- Retaining leftover funds when the person is no longer acting as the beneficiary’s representative; and
- Charging the beneficiary for their services.
Contact an Experienced White Collar Crime Attorney Today
To speak with a white collar crime attorney about your own case, please contact Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A., Criminal Defense Attorneys at 305-670-9919 or by initiating a live chat with a dedicated member of our legal team. Our Miami attorneys are eager to help you today.