Acting Commissioner Carolyn Colvin of the Social Security Administration (SSA) has announced the establishment of a centralized fraud prevention unit in New York City. This unit will identify potential fraud trends in disability cases nationwide. The unit was created in response to the recent indictments in Puerto Rico and New York City. Ms. Colvin stated, “Social Security strives to preserve the public’s trust in our programs and we have no tolerance for fraud. We are aggressive in our efforts to detect and prevent fraud. The employees in our anti-fraud unit will be our national experts, and we plan to compile data from their work to help us develop further analytical tools to find potential fraud. ”
The creation of this unit is great and all, but what does it mean to you? Well, it means when you submit an application for disability benefits your case will be given a more intense look over than it may have before. It is also possible that additional documentation will be required, and the forms themselves may become more detailed.
When completing disability benefits forms you should be sure to speak with your representative. Be careful not to misrepresent or omit any facts when submitting all forms to the Social Security Administration. If SSA discovers that you knowingly lied or misrepresented information you may face criminal charges for fraud.
Credibility is everything when applying for disability benefits. If SSA finds any reason not to believe your statements then everything you have said surrounding your condition, including statements made to your doctor, will be called into question. At that point, your case will rely heavily upon objective evidence such as MRI’s, xrays and other testing that cannot be disputed. Your credibility can be affected by several factors, especially those including the following:
- Drug or alcohol use
- Criminal charges based on fraud, cheating or stealing
- If the limitations in your questionnaires do not match with your doctors notes
- If you allegedly stopped working at one point but your earnings record shows otherwise
- Not being truthful about your education
There is a multitude of ways your credibility could be negatively affected in the eyes of SSA. The best advice I give to my clients is to be as honest as possible, and do not exaggerate. When filling out your paperwork have an attorney look it over before submitting it to the SSA. With the new fraud unit in NYC we can expect the Social Security Administration will place a higher emphasis on seeking out discrepancies in an application.
Commissioner Carolyn Colvin added, “To those who would try to cheat us: We will find you; we will prosecute you; we will seek the maximum punishment allowable under the law; and we will fight to recover any money you’ve stolen from the American people.”
Don’t let this be you! Protect yourself from a possible credibility issue, and seek representation from an attorney who knows what they are doing.
Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net by Stuart Miles