In a 2015 audit, the Social Security Administration (SSA) discovered overpayment of benefits totaling more than $16 billion, leading to Congressional calls for a crack down on fraud and overpayment. Many law abiding recipients now find themselves searching for help from a Social Security Disability lawyer in Chicago.
The SSA investigates four major causes of overpayment.
People receiving SSDI do so because they are unable to work a regular job. Beneficiaries are required to report any income they receive from any source, including part-time employment, freelance work, or hobbies. The SSA recalculates benefits annually based on the work activity of the beneficiary, so an accurate assessment of the beneficiary’s income is essential. The more recipients can earn on their own, the less the federal government needs to pay in order to provide an adequate level of support.
SSA investigations into unreported income may lead to charges of fraud or other illegal activities by beneficiaries. Failure to report all income or attempting to hide assets is a serious crime, and will necessitate a Social Security Disability lawyer in Chicago.
Many SSDI beneficiaries receive benefits because of an illness or injury from which they will eventually recover. As a beneficiary’s condition improves, the government expects to pay less in benefits.
A Social Security Disability lawyer in Chicago can appeal the SSA’s decision to cut benefits by showing the beneficiary has not yet recovered enough to return to work, or by proving the improvement had little impact on the beneficiary’s overall health.
SSDI recipients who spent time in prison are ineligible for payments during that time. Families who spent SSDI funds while the beneficiary was in jail may be charged with Social Security fraud. The prohibition on benefits also extends to people who have been convicted of a crime, but have since become fugitives.
When a beneficiary dies, SSDI benefits are to cease immediately. The lag between the beneficiary’s death and acknowledgement from the SSA can be months, and during that time, the SSA may continue to send benefits to the family. Any funds sent to the beneficiary after death are considered overpayments, and will be reclaimed by the SSA.
Overpayments are a problem for the SSA, but the government is taking steps to correct the problem. Beneficiaries or their families who get caught in overpayments may find themselves seeking the assistance of a Social Security Disability lawyer in Chicago to fight fraud charges and other legal action.