Fraudulently filing for and receiving Social Security benefits is against the law. Depending on the nature of your case, you could end up facing a misdemeanor or felony with penalties including fines, imprisonment, restitution or any combination of the three. Therefore, if you facing a charge for Social Security fraud, it is critical to hire a criminal defense lawyer familiar with the government’s aggressive prosecution of fraud cases. A criminal defense lawyer will help you get the best outcome.
What Is Classified as Social Security Fraud?
Social Security fraud can involve claims for disability, retirement, Medicare, or Supplemental Security Income. According to the Social Security Administration’s Office of the Inspector General, there are numerous situations that may constitute Social Security fraud. So, you may receive a charge for fraud if you:
- Apply for and receive benefits from the Social Security system under false pretenses.
- Illegally use the Social Security system for personal gain.
- Knowingly and willfully make false statements on Social Security benefits claims.
- Knowingly and willfully conceal facts.
- Misuse a beneficiary’s funds.
- Continue receiving Social Security for a deceased beneficiary or one no longer under your care.
- Illegally use another person’s Social Security number for personal gain, typically referred to as identity theft.
- Buy, sell, or alter Social Security cards.
- Impersonate a Social Security Administration official.
Disability fraud is one of the most common occurrence of Social Security fraud. When filing an application for disability benefits, many different actions can be classified as fraudulent. Some of these could include:
- Falsifying a medical condition, including faking symptoms or amplifying the seriousness of your disability.
- Falsifying material facts, such as your income, assets, age, previous employment, place of residence, or other criteria that affect your eligibility for benefits.
- Lastly, providing false information about your wages and other income in order to receive benefits or receive higher benefits.
Further, once you get approval for Social Security benefits, you can still receive a charge for fraud by concealing critical information while receiving benefits. This can include not reporting when you return to work, have significant improvement in your medical condition, receive higher income, or have been incarcerated.
What Are the Penalties for Social Security Fraud?
It is a serious criminal offense to knowingly provide fraudulent information on an application to the Social Security Administration for any type of disability benefits. If you are charged with Social Security fraud, you could face significant penalties as a result. In many cases, you must pay restitution to the Social Security Administration Commissioner. Additionally, you must do the same to any beneficiary whose benefits you misused.
Penalties can also include a prison sentence of up to five years and hefty fines up to $250,000. If you received a fee for assisting another person in committing Social Security fraud, you could face punishment of up to 10 years in prison. If your Social Security fraud caused damages to others, you can also have to appear in civil court and face paying further fines. A criminal defense lawyer familiar with the penalties for Social Security fraud is vital in defending you against harsh penalties.
How a Criminal Defense Lawyer Helps
If you are accused of Social Security fraud, it is imperative to hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer. The government aggressively prosecutes fraud cases. A criminal lawyer can help protect your rights while exploring all possible legal options in your case. In order to charge you, the government must prove your intent to defraud by establishing evidence you intentionally made a false statement(s) with the intention of receiving benefits you had no right to. Your criminal attorney effectively defends against any and all evidence presented against you.
Receiving a conviction for Social Security fraud can harm you personally and professionally. It can also prevent you from qualifying for Social Security benefits later, even if you become unable to work. To avoid unintentionally committing fraud while applying for Social Security benefits, seek the help of an attorney experienced with preparing Social Security applications. Filing a strong application can also maximize your chance of getting approval to receive benefits.
Hire a Top Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you have been charged with any type of Social Security fraud, you need the help of an experienced criminal defense lawyer from Lerner & Rowe Law Group. We fight hard to protect your future and your freedom. Visit our office Monday through Friday from 8 AM to 5 PM or use our convenient online LiveChat. You can reach us by phone anytime at (602) 667-7777. So, don’t hesitate! Take advantage of our free initial consultation and affordable payment plans. Reach out to our team today!