To deal with the growing issue of Social Security disability fraud, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has announced four new teams who will be assigned to investigating potentially fraudulent claims. These teams are part of the Cooperative Disability Investigations (CDI) Units, and specialize in tracking down those who try to take advantage of Social Security benefits they are not entitled to. The goal of the CDI is to reduce fraudulent Social Security claims, which harm actual people with disabilities who struggle to get benefits for themselves.
What is Social Security Disability Fraud?
Social Security Disability fraud is the result of people attempting to claim Social Security Disability benefits they know they are not legally entitled to. This kind of fraud can take a variety of forms, including:
- Applying for benefits for themselves when they do not have a disability.
- Falsifying medical or financial records to apply for benefits they are not qualified for.
- Making multiple applications for benefits to try to accrue extra benefits for the same disability.
- Using a false or stolen identity (along with similarly fake or stolen Social Security numbers) to apply for Social Security benefits.
- Concealing an improvement in their medical condition that would keep them from continuing to receive Social Security Disability benefits.
- Collecting disability benefits from a deceased family member.
The CDI is tasked specifically with investigating potentially fraudulent claims for Social Security Disability benefits before any benefits have been paid out. This allows them to make sure whoever they are paying benefits to is actually entitled to them. It also helps protect the Social Security fund, from which all disability recipients draw their benefits.
Is Social Security Disability Fraud A Problem?
Social Security Disability fraud is a surprisingly common problem. Many fraudsters seem to perceive Social Security and other government benefits programs as sources of free income they can just draw from if they choose. As a result of fraud and other issues, the SSA’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) estimated in a 2018 report that the SSA loses $5.9 billion every year due to improper payments.
While this may seem like a drop in the bucket compared to the more than $1 trillion paid out by the SSA every year, these overpayments represent about 5% of all payments made every year. Some of these overpayments are innocuous, such as continuing to pay out disability benefits to someone who is deceased, or someone who has recovered from their disability. In many cases, however, a recipient will collect benefits they know they are not entitled to, which is fraud.
How Does the CDI Stop Fraud?
The CDI identifies potentially fraudulent claims by examining applications for potential issues that might indicate fraud. This could include issues such as:
- Incomplete paperwork
- Missing medical or financial documentation
- Duplicate claims
- Use of a stolen or fake Social Security number
- Lying about pertinent information on an application
If you are seeking Social Security Disability benefits, you do not want to risk running afoul of the CDI, which could result in your claim being delayed or denied. Before you try to apply, consult with an attorney knowledgeable in these issues who can help you make the process as smooth as possible.
If you or a loved one need assistance applying for SSDI or SSI benefits, it is important that you seek the guidance of an experienced Social Security Disability benefits lawyer. The lawyers at Sullivan & Kehoe, LLP have over 50 years of combined experience between its attorneys and are available to you or your loved one in obtaining Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income benefits. To schedule a consultation with our New York Social Security Disability benefits lawyers, call (631) 823-7155.