Keep an eye on your SSD benefits!

Previously this year, the Social Security Administration (SSA) stated that it was planning on phasing out paper SSD checks to comply with a new federal rule. This means that more Social Security checks are being automatically deposited into bank accounts than ever before. The convenience is great, but there is also a risk, which was highlighted by CCN money this week: identity scams.

Currently, identity thieves are stealing personal information from retired people and people on disability. By stealing just a full name and a bank account number, they can ask the SSA to reroute the payments to their own banking accounts.

Unfortunately, notifying the SSA of the missing payments is not enough to recover those payments immediately. In one veteran's case, it took a month for him to recover his Social Security disability payment - a month during which he had to borrow money and skip paying his rent.

According to the Inspector General's Office, more than 40 reports of "questionable changes" to beneficiaries' direct deposit information are made every day. While that number doesn't come close to the number of payments made each month, it is concerning. The inspector general has asked the SSA to adopt better measured for verifying a beneficiary's identity in order to make changes to his or her account, including immediately alerting beneficiaries when there are any changes.

You can also take measures to protect your identity and your checks, including:

  • Be very wary if someone contacts you asking for your personal information.
  • Only give personal information over secured connections.
  • Consider telling the SSA that they cannot made changes to your account unless you appear in person at an SSA office.
  • Check your account each month around the time you receive your SSD check to ensure that it has been correctly deposited.
  • If you do not receive an SSD payment on time and it has been three or four days since the usual direct deposit, contact the SSA office to ask them about the payment.
  • If the SSA sends you a letter regarding a change to your direct deposit that you did not make, take action.

Source: CNN Money, "Scam targets seniors' Social Security benefits," Blake Ellis, Sept. 26, 2012.

If you believe you have been the victim of fraud, contact the inspector general at http://oig.ssa.gov/report-fraud-waste-or-abuse.

For more information about SSD, please see our page on Social Security Disability benefits.

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In Minnesota, we handle Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) claims. Throughout the nation, we handle SSDI applications and appeals for people from Ohio to Kansas, North Dakota to Texas and everywhere in between.

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