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Fraud Categories

OIG receives and evaluates allegations of fraud, waste, or abuse and mismanagement in Social Security programs and operations.

If an investigation reveals fraudulent activity, the case might be presented to federal, state, or local prosecutors for consideration of criminal prosecution or SSA might impose administrative sanctions.

Most of the allegations we receive fall into one of the categories described below.

In a Social Security-related scam, a scammer claims to be an SSA or other government employee. Scammers may threaten arrest or other legal action unless one immediately pays a fine or fee; promise a benefit increase or other assistance in exchange for payment; or demand personal information. Scammers often require payment by retail gift card, cash, wire transfer, internet currency, or prepaid debit card. Scammers primarily use the telephone to contact victims, but may also use email, text message, social media, websites, or U.S. mail.

For more information on scams, visit and follow SSA OIG on social media for the latest news.

Disability Insurance fraud includes, among other activities, concealing work activity or medical improvement while receiving disability benefits, representative payee misuse, and deceased payee fraud.
See also information on our Cooperative Disability Investigations (CDI) program.

The OIG plays an important role in addressing COVID-19 pandemic-related fraud throughout the Federal Government. Social Security number misuse, including identity theft, is a common thread running throughout a substantial number of the pandemic investigative cases. We participate in the National COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Taskforce, led by the Deputy Attorney General of the United States. We are also working with other federal, state, and local agencies to pursue Social Security number misuse and other crimes committed in relation to Paycheck Protection Program fraud.

The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program is a means-tested based program, and we work to ensure that only those who are truly eligible for these critical benefits receive them. Eligibility for SSI primarily relies on self-reporting many factors including earnings, assets, resources, marital status, residency, and living arrangements, among others. We investigate allegations of many types of SSI fraud, including when someone conceals a marriage, real estate or other assets, or their true country of residence from SSA while receiving SSI payments.

These investigations pertain primarily to Retirement and Survivor’s Insurance benefits, including deceased payee fraud, representative payee misuse, false statements about marital or parental status in applying for survivors’ benefits, and other related types of fraud.

We work to ensure the integrity of Social Security numbers (SSN), as SSA depends on them to accurately post earnings to individuals’ records and calculate earned benefits. SSNs are used by not only SSA but also other agencies and entities, so we often pursue joint investigations into SSN misuse. We are authorized to investigate any situation in which a person misuses an SSN, whether for unauthorized work, obtaining a loan, applying for a government benefit, or any other purpose.

Public integrity investigations are critical to ensuring we maintain the public trust in SSA’s programs and operations. We must take swift action concerning allegations against employees who may have misused their position for personal gain or violated other laws or regulations in the performance of their official duties. We must act when the safety of SSA employees is threatened.

Whistleblowers perform an important service for the public and SSA when they report suspected wrongdoing. All SSA employees, contractors, subcontractors, grantees, subgrantees, and personal services contractors are protected from retaliation for making a protected disclosure.

Visit Whistleblower Rights and Protection for more information.

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