Identity Theft Can Be a Threat to Disability Payments

How can identity theft affect your disability check?

Identity theft has become an increasingly common occurrence, causing millions of people complex financial problems and emotional turmoil. There are many ways in which you can find out that your identity has been stolen, none of them pleasant. Sometimes, you are suddenly billed for purchases you’ve never made; other times you are denied credit you’ve never applied for. On many occasions, you find out about the theft when you apply for a mortgage or try to buy a car, only to find that you suddenly have a poor credit rating because someone else has defaulted on payments using your credentials.

One of the most disturbing ways to find out about identity theft is when you attempt to file your income tax only to discover that someone has already applied to receive a fraudulent tax refund in your name. Even in these days of sophisticated computer fixes, people whose identities have been stolen usually end up spending a great deal of time dealing with the process of cleaning up the resulting mess. It is particularly labor-intensive to re-file taxes, and infuriating to experience the delay in receiving a tax refund through no fault of your own. There are, however, even worse problems that can be the result of identity theft.

When the person whose identity is stolen is on disability, living solely on monthly checks from the Social Security Administration (SSD or SSDI), the results can become life-threatening. While for most us, our tax returns are important credentials, and we know to keep them available for scrutiny by the government if the occasion arises, individuals who live on only disability income, and therefore do not pay federal income tax, do not have such evidence to prove their lack of employment to the government.

In a recent case, this caused Jennifer Marban, a disabled woman from Knoxville, Tennessee, severe trouble. Not only was her identity stolen, but the thief filed a fraudulent tax return in her name, claiming that she had been employed for four years. Armed with this false information, the Social Security Administration informed Jennifer that it was discontinuing her disability checks. Since Ms. Marban supported herself and her three children solely on her disability payments, she was suddenly destitute. Although she had verification from the IRS that her ID had, in fact, been stolen, during to the usual bureaucratic snags, the SSA had not received this information and her check was disastrously delayed. If you experience a delay or stoppage of your disability payments because of identity theft, or for any other reason, you should contact a disability attorney promptly. A lawyer experienced in this branch of the law will be able to clear the matter up much more expeditiously than if you were to try to do so yourself.