How SSD Fraud Hurts Everyone
Have you ever read a story about someone trying to bring a strange service animal on a plane, or seen a non-disabled person get called out for using a handicapped parking space? When you see people who are obviously try to scam the system, you might denounce their attempts or even laugh at the ridiculous lengths they went through to keep their furry friend on a plane or get a closer parking spot at the grocery store. But for people with actual disabilities, fraud is nothing to laugh about. When people misuse or outright abuse things like handicapped permits, service animals, or even Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits, it has a negative impact on people with disabilities.
How Fraud and Misuse Impacts Everyone
To understand the impact of fraud, look no further than the classic fable of The Boy Who Cried Wolf. In the fable, a boy repeatedly makes up claims about a dangerous wolf coming to his village. When the wolf does actually come, no one believes the boy when he tries to warn them. Because he “cried wolf” so many times, his claims about an actual wolf seemed unbelievable. In a real-world example, imagine that someone brings their puppy into a store, claiming that it is a service dog. When the puppy behaves badly and ruins the store, the store owner is less likely to believe the next person who comes in with a service dog.
When it comes to SSD, fraud can be particularly damaging for people with disabilities. For many people, SSD is their only source of income. The SSD system exists to help people who have no other options, and provides financial relief for thousands of people. To some, SSD might seem like free money for people who are too lazy to find a job. This is obviously far from true. However, this mindset likely leads to some people attempting to commit SSD fraud.
Types of SSD Fraud
According to the Social Security Administration, examples of “fraud, waste, and misuse” include:
- Making false statements or claims
- Concealing facts or events which affect eligibility
- Misusing someone else’s benefits
- Buying or selling counterfeit Social Security cards
In cases of fraud, people might make up entirely false claims. Sometimes, people go as far as lying to a physician to obtain medical records that back up their false claim. Other times, people might exaggerate the truth. For example, if someone really does have an illness but purposefully does not mention they still have a part-time job, it would also be a potential case of fraud. Other examples involve taking benefits meant for a disabled family member, or failing to report a family’s member death.
If someone is caught in their fraudulent attempt to receive SSD benefits, it leads to greater scrutiny over people who truthfully apply. Considering that filing for SSD is already a long and complex process, fraud only makes the situation worse.
Suspect SSD Fraud?
If you suspect someone is committing SSD fraud, you can report their behavior to the Social Security Administration Fraud Hotline. Accusing someone of fraud is serious business, so you will want to make sure you understand all the details. Don’t jump to the conclusion that someone is committing fraud simply because they do not look ill or injured. But if you have a genuine reason to believe that someone is committing fraud, the Social Security Administration encourages you to speak up.
From laws about service animals to the Social Security Disability system, there are many measures in the United States that allow people with disabilities to live equal, fulfilling, and financially stable lives. But when people commit fraud, it harms the system that is supposed to help people with disabilities.
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