Cooperative Disability Investigations
The Cooperative Disability Investigations (CDI) program is a key anti-fraud initiative that combats fraud within Social Security disability programs. The CDI program accomplishes its mission by reviewing questionable disability claims and investigating cases of suspected disability fraud in order to stop payment before it occurs, or as soon as fraud is suspected.
Each CDI unit consists of a Social Security Administration (SSA) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) special agent who serves as a team leader, and personnel from SSA, State disability determination services (DDS), and State or local law enforcement partners. CDI units combine federal and state resources and expertise to benefit not only Social Security programs, but also other federal and state programs, such as food and nutrition assistance, housing assistance, Medicare, and Medicaid.
The CDI program helps to ensure only people who qualify for Social Security benefits receive them. During fiscal year 2021, the CDI program reported more than $86 million in projected savings to SSA’s disability programs and approximately $76.5 million to non-SSA programs, such as Medicare, Medicaid, housing assistance, and nutrition assistance programs. Since inception, CDI investigations have contributed to a projected savings to taxpayers of approximately $7.7 billion: $4.3 billion in projected savings to SSA’s Title II and Title XVI disability programs, and $3.4 billion in projected savings to related Federal and State benefit programs.
The CDI program began as a pilot in 1997, with just five CDI units. Upon the enactment of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, nationwide CDI coverage was mandated by fiscal year 2022 subject to the availability of funding and cooperation with local law enforcement agencies.
The CDI program currently consists of 49 units, covering 47 states, the District of Columbia, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, in addition to the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands.
By October 1, 2022, SSA and OIG plan to expand the CDI program to Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Alaska, achieving CDI coverage in all U.S. States and Territories.
Generally, CDI units investigate suspected fraud before the agency awards benefits, and support the Continuing Disability Review and redetermination processes when fraud may be involved.
CDI investigations typically begin with a report of suspected fraud from SSA, State DDS, law enforcement, or the public. The CDI unit investigates statements and activities of claimants, medical providers, and other third parties, and obtains evidence to resolve questions of potential fraud.
Upon completion of the investigation, the CDI unit provides a detailed report of the investigation to the State DDS to use as additional documentation or evidence in making disability determinations. If the CDI investigation reveals fraudulent activity, the case might also be presented to federal and state prosecutors for consideration of prosecution or SSA might impose administrative sanctions.