Social Security Fraud: Concealing Facts from SSA

Beyond the Numbers

Date: 
Thursday, February 16, 2017
Posted by: 
The Communications Division

Whether you are working, married, or even serving a prison sentence, these and other facts can affect your Social Security benefit eligibility and payment amount.

If you conceal certain information from SSA to collect benefits you are not entitled to receive, that could be considered fraud against Social Security.

As the examples below show, the OIG investigates many cases in which people have withheld facts or events from SSA—such as work activity, death information, and marriage status—to fraudulently collect Social Security benefits.

Woman Withholds Work, Marriage Status

A common allegation we receive and pursue suggests someone is receiving benefits while withholding work information from SSA. For example, based on an allegation from SSA, we recently investigated an Arkansas woman who concealed her work activities at a physician’s clinic, for almost five years, from SSA while collecting disability.

Our investigation determined the woman’s work activities included landscaping and housekeeping tasks at the clinic. According to the investigation, she also concealed her living arrangements with her husband to receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

She pled guilty to making false statements to SSA, and in November 2016, a judge sentenced her to three years’ probation and ordered her to repay $54,000 to SSA.

Man Works Under Child’s Identity

In a similar case, a Tennessee man receiving disability concealed his work activity from SSA, but he did so under the cover of his son’s identity. Based on an allegation from SSA, we determined the man used his son’s Social Security number to conceal wages he earned while working at a car wash for four years.

He pled guilty to government theft, and in December 2016, a judge sentenced him to time served and two years’ supervised release, and ordered him to repay $46,000 to SSA.

Son Fails to Report Father’s Death

Timely death information is crucial for SSA, so the agency can terminate benefits to the deceased and prevent improper payments. However, in a recent case out of Georgia, an OIG investigation found that a man withheld death information and fraudulently collected hundreds of thousands of dollars in benefits from SSA for 35 years.

During a Medicare Non-Utilization Project review, SSA noticed an elderly beneficiary failed to respond to numerous requests to visit his local SSA office. SSA requested the OIG’s assistance in locating the man; our investigators determined that he died in 1980, and that his son concealed the death from the SSA to collect more than $240,000 in benefits intended for his father.

The son pled guilty to government theft and wire fraud, and in November 2016, a judge sentenced him to 10 months in prison and ordered him to repay more than $240,000 to SSA.

Widow Conceals Marriage

Finally, withholding marriage information also has its potential consequences, as seen in a recent case out of New York. A private citizen alleged to us that a woman concealed her marriage from SSA to collect SSI and widow’s benefits. Our investigation discovered the woman was widowed, but she remarried in 2002, and she made false statements to SSA to collect more than $112,000 in benefits from 2002 to 2014.

She pled guilty to government theft, and in November 2016, a judged sentenced her to five months’ house arrest and three years’ probation, and ordered her to repay $112,000 to SSA.

Do you suspect someone has concealed facts or events from Social Security that might affect their eligibility for benefits? If so, please contact the OIG Fraud Hotline at https://oig.ssa.gov/report.

For more information, visit the “What is Fraud, Waste, or Abuse?” page.