Q: What is the penalty if I’m caught working while receiving Social Security disability benefits?
One of the advantages of living in America is the availability of federal government programs that provide assistance when hard times unexpectedly hit. At some point during their lifetimes, many working Americans may become physically or mentally disabled and unable to continue to work. When this happens, Social Security Disability benefits “SSDI” may be the lifeline you and your family need to financially survive the crisis. But applying for Social Security disability benefits (“SSDI”) is a time-consuming and often frustrating process.
An Arizona Social Security disability benefits attorney can not only increase the chances of an initial application for benefits being granted, but can also help appeal a denial of benefits at any point in the appeals process. Since about 60% of initial applications are denied, and the waiting time for an appeals hearing can take as long as nearly two years now, can you afford not to have an attorney on your side?
The SSDI system is designed to help those who need assistance—for only as long as they need it. Some people will need it permanently because their condition is not expected to improve or is expected to worsen. Other people–because of rest, rehabilitation, new medication, or other reasons– recover enough to try a return to the workforce. As expected, the government encourages and supports disability recipients’ attempts to return to work– provided they are done in accordance with established government regulations.
When benefit recipients who are legitimately disabled return to work in violation of these guidelines—or when benefit recipients engage in fraud—they can find themselves in very hot water legally.
A woman who reportedly filed paperwork stating that she was not working, was recently “indicted on federal charges of collecting nearly $100,000 in disability benefits while she was working.” She also allegedly used a church’s credit card for her personal use.
According to the indictment, her boss agreed to issue her paychecks in her husband’s name. Each of the three was charged with one count of Social Security fraud and one count of theft of government funds. In addition, the woman was charged with two counts of making false statements and one count of wire fraud.
The potential maximum punishments for convictions for the above counts are:
- Social Security fraud: 5 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine
- Theft of government funds: 5 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine
- Making a false statement: 5 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine
- Wire Fraud: 20 Years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine.
It’s never too late to get a skilled benefits attorney on your side to help you avoid costly mistakes and delays regarding applying for or appealing a denial of disability benefits—or properly returning to the workforce after a legitimate disability.
If you have questions regarding any aspect of Social Security disability benefits or need help with an application or appeal, the Disability Attorneys of Arizona at Roeschke Law can help. Contact us today for a free consultation.
From our offices in Phoenix, Tucson, and Tempe, we help disabled individuals and their families throughout Arizona.