Social Security Fraud: Innocent Victims Can Get Caught Up In The Rush To Judge

Stories about Social Security disability fraudsters make great headlines—especially when someone gets caught in a spectacular lie, like driving a car after pretending to be blind in order to collect benefits. Unfortunately, people who are legitimately disabled can also get caught up in false allegations. If it happens to you, you can quickly find yourself in need of a good criminal defense attorney to protect you against a system that can easily roll over you. If you're receiving Social Security disability, this is what you need to know about allegations of fraud.

1.) Disability recipients have become the new "welfare queens" of political rhetoric.

Social Security isn't that easy to get, and fraud accounts for less than 1% of the program's outlay. Yet, there are politicians who are intent on pushing the idea that disability fraud is widespread. Combine that with a general lack of understanding by the non-disabled about how the programs actually work, and it becomes easy to see how people who have hidden disabilities, like mental illness and back pain, can end up targeted for investigations.

2.) Your disgruntled neighbor, angry ex-spouse, and jealous in-laws are encouraged to report their suspicions.

It is frighteningly easy to become the target of a fraud investigation. The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) encourages people to file reports on anybody they suspect of committing fraud through an online form, by mail, fax, or phone. The tipster doesn't even have to give OIG their name. If they do give a name, OIG will keep it confidential in order to protect them against retaliation. 

In practical terms, this means that anyone who has a grudge against you could launch an investigation in your life and you won't be given the opportunity to explain the relationship issues that may have led to their allegations. 

3.) You could face charges before all the evidence is even gathered.

Sometimes investigators do use all of the tools at their disposal to look into allegations. At best, however, that means that your Facebook page and other social media accounts will be examined for signs that you aren't really as disabled as you say you are. Investigative agents may follow you, interact with you, and film you as you go about your day. While all of that could amount to nothing, it also has the potential to give the government misleading "evidence" that they could show to a jury if you are charged with fraud. A smiling photo taken at a restaurant on your birthday, for example, doesn't show things like the pain medication you took that day in order to go out, or the three-hour nap you took when you got home because you were exhausted. 

Investigators are also known to charge people with fraud before they have all the facts they need to make a fair evaluation of your situation. For example, when a fraud ring in New York was busted up, at least 8 innocent people were caught up in the sweep and forced to hire defense attorneys before the charges were eventually tossed.

Ultimately, this means that you can't rely on your actual innocence to protect you against allegations of disability fraud. Keep in mind that disability fraud is often prosecuted as grand larceny, which is a felony. You can also be charged with mail fraud if you sent any disability paperwork through the mail during your time on Social Security. Because of the serious nature of these charges, you should contact a criminal defense attorney from the Law Offices Of Jerald Silvia or a similar firm if you even suspect that you have been targeted for investigation.