What happens when you apply for Social Security Benefits on the basis of a claim that you have breast cancer, diabetes, kidney disease and post-traumatic stress disorder? What happens when you then give the Social Security Agency medical documents that you made yourself that relate to these diseases – all while adding that you only have eight to twelve months to live?
You end up in jail! At least you do in Wisconsin.
Moreover, that is exactly what Lisa M. Miller, a 32-year-old Wisconsin woman found out last month when she was sentenced to federal prison for Social Security fraud. Although Social Security fraud is an all too common incident, according to a report on the case, the judge stated in sentencing that it was “time for a wake-up call” and therefore imposed two months in prison.
In fact, Social Security fraud is such a common occurrence that the Social Security Administration has set up an online and telephone hotline for reporting potential incidences. According to the Office of the Inspector General, Social Security fraud can include:
- Making false statements on claims
- Concealing material facts or events that affect eligibility for benefits
- Misusing benefits
- Buying or selling Social Security Cards or any other Social Security Administration information
- Impersonating a Social Security Administration employee
- Bribing a Social Security Administration employee
However, sometimes one may be committing fraud without even knowing it. For example, sometimes a person receiving Social Security Disability benefits is unaware of what they can and cannot do with the benefits. It is important to keep in mind that benefits are not “free money.” Instead, benefits come with limitations and restrictions. For instance, one cannot use benefits to pay for personal expenses that are not considered necessary. Similarly, a person cannot keep conserved funds once they are no longer qualified for benefits.