Concerns about Social Security frauds and scams are reasonable and should be paid attention to! Whether or not you are receiving some type of Social Security benefit, the issue impacts all tax payers.
Typical types of fraud include concealing work activity or medical improvement, representative payee misuse of funds, and fraud related to a deceased recipient’s funds. For SSI benefits specifically, fraud can also include misrepresentations about earnings, assets, resources, marital status, residency, or living arrangements. Some people also experience Social Security number misuse, when someone misuses their own or someone else’s number for work purposes, obtaining a loan, or applying for government benefits. Identity theft through use of another’s SSN for Covid-19 relief has also been identified as an offense.
Common scams include someone threatening arrest or legal action unless a fine is paid, promising an increase in benefits in exchange for payment, requests for payment via gift card/cash/wire transfer/internet currency/prepaid debit card, etc. These scammers use phone calls, emails, text messages, social media, website, and U.S. mail to contact their victims.
The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) works with the Cooperative Disability Investigations (CDI) program to combat these types of fraud and scammer activity. The CDI program uses federal and state resources to review questionable disability claims and fraud. The program has saved about$4.3 billion in fraudulent losses related to SSA disability programs since 1997, becoming nationally mandated in all 50 states and numerous U.S. territories in 2022.
CDI units usually get involved in concerning claims before any benefits are awarded, and also participate in the Continuing Disability Review and redetermination processes once benefits have been paid. They review applicant statements and activities, medical providers, or other third parties to obtain and evaluate information. They then send their report to the local state DDS, who can use this report in making disability determinations. If fraud is revealed, the CDI can present the case to federal or state prosecutors.