Keeping It Honest: 7 Ways To Avoid Fraud Allegations With Social Security Disability

The Social Security Administration (SSA) provides people who are unable to work at their jobs because of certain medical conditions a valuable perk: the ability to collect monthly benefits. These benefits are not welfare or a gift from the federal government, but instead are the accumulated funds that you have had deducted from your paycheck throughout your working life. While you are entitled to be paid these benefits, the rules under which you may qualify can be complex and confusing to navigate through. Sometimes this confusion leads to mistakes and misunderstandings when filling out your application and later when receiving benefits. To learn more about the 7 common issues that could get you in trouble with the SSA, read on.

1. Exaggeration of Your Condition:  Embellishing the symptoms of your medical condition when meeting with your doctor in an effort to make your condition seem worse than it may be. The SSA may require that you undergo further medical examinations if they have suspicions that you are exaggerating your condition, which can delay your approval.

2. Minimizing Your Education: One of the criteria the SSA uses to determine your eligibility is your education level, but these facts are always verified so don't be tempted to mislead the SSA about your education or job training history.

3. Obscuring Self Employment Income: People who have been self-employed must use alternative proof of employment, since pay stubs and employer verification cannot be considered. Since your income must stay below $1090.00 per month to receive benefits, the monthly income reported to the SSA should never be under-reported since your income tax return must align with your SSA reported income for the year.

4. Using an Inaccurate Date: The SSA uses your last day of work to determine any back pay that you may be owed. Don't risk an application denial or allegation of fraud by pushing that date back to gain a higher back pay benefit amount.

5. Not Reporting a Marriage: You must report any changes in marital status immediately, since your new spouse's income is considered in your benefit determination.

6. Using Another Person's SSN: You will likely be unable to receive Social Security benefits if you have been convicted of fraud in relation to other government benefit programs like food stamps, but using another person's Social Security number to apply for benefits will only land you in more trouble with the federal government.

7. Unreported Income: If you are receiving any money for anything and not reporting it to the SSA, you are risking fraud, penalties and you may have to pay the SSA back. Common situations include renting out a room but failing to report the income or working and receiving cash payments.

While it may appear to be difficult to avoid making some of these mistakes, pleading ignorance won't prevent expulsion from the program and other penalties, such as a $10,000.00 fine for each act and up to 5 years in federal prison. So, fill out your application honestly and contact a Social Security attorney to learn more about staying on the good side of the SSA.