When individuals apply for Social Security Benefits, they are required to certify that all of the information they have provided on the application are true and correct to the best of their knowledge. If someone reports something on their application that they know is false, it may be a crime. There are different forms of social security disability fraud, which clients should be aware of.
Concealing facts or events that could affect eligibility
One example of fraud is when an individual makes a false statement on an application or omits certain facts that are likely to have a negative effect on their benefits. For example, failing to report that you have returned to work, that you are in jail, or withholding the death of a beneficiary, while continuing to receive and cash the deceased person’s checks.
Misuse of benefits by a representative payee
In some cases, individuals who receive Social Security Benefits are not able to handle their own financial affairs, in which case a relative, friend, or another individual or organization is appointed to handle their Social Security matters. If a Representative Payee misuses an individual’s Social Security Benefits that can be considered a crime.
Understanding the responsibilities of a representative payee
Some of the duties of a Representative Payee include determining the beneficiary’s total needs and using the benefits received only in the best interests of the beneficiary, maintaining a continuing awareness of the beneficiary’s needs and condition, applying the benefit payments only for the beneficiary’s use and benefit, notifying Social Security Administration of any change in the beneficiary’s circumstances that would affect performance of the payee’s responsibilities, and reporting to Social Security Administration any event that might affect the amount of benefits the beneficiary receives and to give written reports accounting for the use of the benefits.
Providing for the essential needs of the beneficiary
Part of the responsibility the representative payee has is to apply the benefits payments to the beneficiary’s current and reasonably foreseeable needs, which must be immediate and essential. For instance, essential needs basically include food, clothing, shelter, utilities, medical care and insurance, dental care, personal hygiene, education, and rehabilitation expenses. If there are any funds left over once these current needs are met, the representative payee must save and/or invest the remaining funds in trust for the beneficiary.
Actions a representative payee should avoid
Representative Payees should not use a beneficiary’s funds for their own personal use, or spend funds in any way that would leave the beneficiary without necessary items or services. Also, it is improper to put a beneficiary’s Social Security or SSI funds in the representative payee’s or someone else’s account. It is also improper to charge a beneficiary for services unless authorized by the Social Security Administration.
If you have questions regarding avoiding fraud, or any other social security disability concerns, call the Cottrell Law Office at (888) 433-4861.
He is licensed to practice law in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, eastern Arkansas, western Arkansas, and western Missouri. He was Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Crawford County, Kansas from 1987-1989.
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