What is Section 1129?
The Office of Counsel to the Inspector General (OCIG) uses Section 1129 of the Social Security Act to impose civil monetary penalties (CMPs) against individuals who fraudulently receive or attempt to receive Social Security benefits.
OCIG imposes CMPs against individuals who engage in misconduct by:
- making false statements;
- making misrepresentations;
- omissions of withholding material facts in connection with obtaining or retaining Social Security benefits/payments; and/or
- conversion of beneficiary’s benefits/payments by a representative payee for their own personal use instead of being used for the care and well-being of the beneficiary as intended.
The false statement, misrepresentation, omission of withholding material facts, or conversion of benefits can be a verbal or written statement made to SSA. Any individual who seeks SSA benefits for themselves or another individual has the responsibility to report all material information to SSA within 10 days after the month it happens. Material withholdings are actionable even when there is a no verbal or written communication with SSA.
Section 1129 violations can be verbal or written statement made to SSA personnel, or--with the failure to report--there may be no SSA contact. The fraudulent actions must be committed in an effort to obtain or continue to receive benefits.
Civil Monetary Penalty Amounts
The CMP statute permits penalties of up to $5,000 for each false statement, each material omission, or conversion of benefits. Furthermore, each act or omission equals a separate violation.
Example: If an SSI recipient fails to report a change in their living arrangements that might render him/her ineligible for SSA payments or fails to report receipt of a resource, e.g., Workers’ Compensation benefits we can impose a maximum penalty of $5,000 for each month the violation occurred.
In addition to CMPs, SSA also has the authority to impose an additional assessment in lieu of damages. Section 1129 of the Act permits OIG to double the overpayment, unlike the criminal arena, which authorizes restitution equal to the amount stolen. In numerous CMP cases, OIG has seen more severe financial consequences from imposing CMPs than from the criminal prosecutions.
In a one-year period, OCIG imposed more than $10 million in CMP’s and assessments in lieu of damages against 188 individuals.
Section 1129 Case Summaries
(Click title for link to summary)
- Georgia Woman Fraudulently Takes Dead Woman’s Social Security Benefits
- Washington State Woman Steals Grandson’s Benefits and Abandons Family
- Hawaii Man Failed to Disclose a $1M in Assets While Receiving SSI
- Texas Man Fraudulently Concealed Security Business to Defraud SSA
Concealment of Work Activity
- Federal Employee Physician Worked While Collecting Disability Benefits
- New Hampshire Realtor Concealed Work Activity
- Minnesota Man Concealed Work Activity by Using Wife’s SSN for 49 Months
- Connecticut Car Mechanic Concealed Work Activity
Claimant Feigned Disability to Collect Benefits