The Illinois U.S. attorney’s office recently accused ten Chicago area residents of stealing more than $1.2 million in combined Social Security benefits. In each Social Security Chicago fraud case, individuals received heavy fines and prison sentences for their crimes.
Prosecutors involved in the fraud cases stated that six of the defendants used false identities to obtain Social Security disability benefits.Some of these defendants secured benefits by claiming they were disabled while simultaneously earning wages using a different identity. Other defendants collected benefits from beneficiaries they knew were deceased. Defendants included both males and females with ages ranging from 39 to 67. In all 10 cases, each defendant received a maximum $250,000 fine and a maximum 10-year prison term.
Understanding Social Security Fraud
To prevent Social Security Disability fraud, the Social Security Administration (SSA) regularly reviews each recipient’s status. To ensure timely status reviews for each recipient pay for fraud investigations, Congress has increased funds for Social Security in 2016. When filing Social Security Chicago disability, an Illinois claimant should understand what constitutes fraud.
- Employment Status – If a claimant works while receiving disability benefits, work hours and income must be reported to the SSA. A claimant should never conceal employment or falsify work hours.
- Residence – When receiving disability benefits, residence status must be kept current. If a recipient moves to another state or out of the country, the SSA must be notified immediately.
- Income Limits – When receiving disability benefits, there are limits to a recipient’s income. In 2016, the monthly income limit for a disabled person who is not blind is $1,130 per month. For a blind person, the monthly income limit is $1,820 per month.
- Other Disability Benefits – If an individual is eligible for other private, state, or federal disability benefits or worker’s compensation, SSDI benefit payments may be reduced. When receiving disability benefits, a recipient must notify the SSA if he/she applies for another type of disability benefits, receives a lump sum settlement due to a disabling condition, or if disability benefits change or stop.
- Change in Status – When receiving SSDI, a recipient must notify the SSA of any changes in status after disability benefits are approved. Examples include: moving; a name change; a change in marital status; losing custody of a child for whom benefits are received; the death of a spouse or child for whom benefits are received; and if convicted of a crime.