In the past few days I read about two people who pled guilty to fraud charges for making false statements to the Social Security Administration.
The actions of both of the individuals charged with the frauds is despicable and deserving of punishment.
Unfortunately, all too often, I get calls from former clients and prospective clients who tell me about how they were contacted by investigators with the Social Security Administration’s Office of Inspector General Office (“OIG”). More often than not, these people are innocent of any frauds, and are simply the victims of vengeful spouses (and former spouses) or acquaintances who mistakenly believe that a fraud is being perpetuated. The conventional wisdom is that a person being investigated by OIG is indeed guilty of some fraud and, as such, attorneys stay away from those cases. In fact, the reality is that in many cases, the investigators simply want to get to the bottom of the issue. I have had numerous cases like this, where the investigators confirmed the absence of fraud and my clients’ benefits were continued.
At the same time, it does happen that otherwise good people have given in to the temptation of continuing to collect Disability benefits while working or otherwise no longer eligible. In my experience, the Social Security Administration rarely initiates fraud proceedings to punish the wrongdoer and, in fact, frequently handles the resultant ‘overpayment’ with surprising sensitivity for the disabled claimant and works with the wrongdoers to recover the money improperly received.
While it’s a difficult situation to decide who should just pay back benefits versus who should pay back money and be punished, the two newsmakers below most certainly deserve to suffer punitive consequences for their actions.
The links to the articles I read are below: