Since its inception in 1935, Social Security has provided a safety net for our country’s most vulnerable citizens. Social Security (also known as Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance, or OASDI) is a source of income for millions of senior citizens in Florida. The Social Security Administration paid around one trillion dollars to 63 million Americans in 2018.
Social Security is the most costly welfare program in the United States. It is also one of the most abused programs. Social Security fraud is estimated to cost taxpayers billions of dollars annually. A person accused of federal fraud is unlikely to cut a deal with the prosecution without the assistance of an experienced defense attorney.
Defense Attorney for Social Security Fraud in Palm Beach County
If you’re facing federal Social Security fraud charges, you need a lawyer with proven experience. Meltzer & Bell, P.A. has defended clients in countless Social Security fraud cases. Our attorneys are equipped with the skills to help secure the best defense possible for you.
Call (561) 557-8686 or complete our online form to schedule your free consultation. We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Meltzer & Bell, P.A. represents clients in Boynton Beach, Royal Palm Beach, West Palm Beach, and other communities in Palm Beach County.
Overview of Social Security Fraud in West Palm Beach, Florida
- Different Types of Social Security Fraud
- What Are the Penalties for Social Security Fraud?
- A Real-World Example of Social Security Fraud in Florida
- Additional Resources
Different Types of Social Security Fraud
The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) at the Social Security Administration (SSA) oversees the payout of Social Security funds. The OIG lists the following illegal activities as common examples of Social Security fraud and abuse:
- Filing claims that include false statements;
- Failing to report information which could affect your eligibility for benefits;
- Misusing someone else’s benefits when you are acting as their representative payee;
- Purchasing or selling Social Security cards (real or counterfeit);
- Misusing a Social Security number in relation to terrorist groups or activities;
- Participating in crimes that involve employees of the SSA;
- Taking part in a scam that involves impersonating an SSA employee;
- Bribing an SSA employee; or
- Committing fraud with or misusing grant or contracting funds.
The Social Security Administration maintains a zero-tolerance policy toward Social Security fraud and abuse. Without a qualified white-collar criminal defense attorney on your side, you’re likely to be steamrolled by the federal government.
What Are the Penalties for Social Security Fraud in Palm Beach County?
The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 defined the crime of felony conspiracy to commit Social Security fraud. Violators face up to five years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000. Those with specialized knowledge of Social Security – such as doctors, claimant representatives, and current or former employees of the Social Security Administration – instead face up to 10 years in prison if convicted.
Civil monetary penalties are a major tool used by the Social Security Administration to punish fraud. Each qualifying violation carries a maximum fine of $8,249. Violators may be required to repay double the amount of any overpayment of benefits. Violators may be assessed civil monetary penalties for any of the following actions:
- Making false statements;
- Making misrepresentations;
- Omitting or withholding material facts; or
- Using a beneficiary’s payments for their own benefit.
Under Section 1140 of the Social Security Act, it is illegal to use the Social Security Administration’s verbiage or logos in a misleading manner. Entities that give consumers the impression an advertisement is approved by or affiliated with the SSA are in violation of this law. It is also illegal to sell unauthorized reproductions of Social Security publications or charge consumers for services offered for free by the Administration unless the consumers are notified that the services are available at no cost. Violators may be assessed a per-violation fine of up to $10,260. If broadcast or telecast, the fine jumps to a maximum of $51,302 per violation.
A Real-World Example of Social Security Fraud in Florida
Many beneficiaries authorize a representative to help manage their finances, including their Social Security benefit payments. The representative has a number of crucial responsibilities. Among these responsibilities is the requirement to notify the Social Security Administration when the beneficiary dies. The representative is also prohibited from using the beneficiary’s funds for their own purposes.
In April 2018, a Florida woman serving as a representative of her grandparents was convicted on 90 charges of stealing government money. She failed to notify the SSA that her grandparents had died, opting instead to use their continuing benefit payments for her own enjoyment. For over a decade the woman wrongfully gained more than $160,000 in payments issued to her dead grandparents. She was sentenced to three years and five months in federal prison and ordered to repay more than $64,000.
The federal court regularly delivers harsh penalties to those convicted of defrauding the system. This serves to not only punish violators, but to demonstrate to anyone thinking about committing Social Security fraud that serious consequences await them. A competent criminal defense attorney can help you secure the best possible outcome.
Who Gets Social Security? | NASI – The National Academy of Social Insurance is a nonprofit organization comprised of social insurance experts. Visit this website to view statistics on the number of Americans who receive Social Security benefits every month. You can view a breakdown of the recipients by retirees, widows of deceased workers, and disabled workers.
What is Fraud, Waste or Abuse? | OIG SSA – The Office of the Inspector General at the Social Security Administration publishes a summary of actions that constitute Social Security fraud. Visit this page to read about the most common types of Social Security abuse. The SSA OIG also provides a toll-free hotline to report fraud.
Pricey Penalties for Social Security Fraud | OIG SSA – This article from the OIG gives an example of what to expect if you are found guilty of Social Security fraud. The OIG explains that while violators are not always prosecuted for criminal or civil charges, there is another method of financial punishment available. Visit this page to read about the Civil Monetary Penalty (CMP) the Inspector General’s office can impose on violators.
Social Security Fraud Defense Lawyer in West Palm Beach
If you’ve been charged with Social Security fraud or other economic crimes, your best bet is to contact Meltzer & Bell, P.A.. Social security fraud is a serious federal offense. You could be facing prison time and major financial penalties if you’re found guilty. Our attorneys have years of federal defense experience and are licensed in the U.S. District of Southern Florida.
Call us at (561) 557-8686 or complete our online form to schedule your free consultation. One of our practiced attorneys will review your case and discuss available options. We aim to reduce or dismiss your charges whenever possible. Meltzer & Bell, P.A. represents clients in Palm Beach County, including Boca Raton, Jupiter, Greenacres, Royal Palm Beach, and other communities in South Florida.