Los Angeles Social Security Fraud Lawyers
Code Provision and Elements
42 U.S.C. § 408 makes it a crime to engage in a host of deceptive behaviors related to Social Security benefits. The statute itself is extensive, prohibiting false statements or misrepresentations related to numerous aspects of the Social Security Administration’s functions. As the United States Attorney’s Office’s Criminal Resource Manual, available online, explains, “most violations . . . involve false statements about or concealment of work activity affecting initial or continuing eligibility for disability benefits, changes in marital status, and misuse of benefits by representative payees . . .”
Initial or continuing eligibility for Social Security Disability payments depends on many factors such as an individual’s employment status, disability status, marital status, etc. Making a false statement as to these or other factors which determine one’s eligibility for benefits may constitute Social Security Fraud under 42 U.S.C. § 408. Other more obvious forms of Social Security Fraud are also covered, such as applying for benefits using a false name or false Social Security number.
The failure to voluntarily disclose certain information may also constitute Social Security Fraud. For example, an individual might become disabled due to an accident on the job. He or she applies for, and properly receives, Social Security disability payments for a period of several years. At some point, through medical intervention or natural healing, the individual’s disability is alleviated such that they may not safely return to their job. If the individual fails to report this change in their condition, which would affect their continuing entitlement to benefits, he or she could be charged with Social Security Fraud under 42 U.S.C. § 408.
In general, violations of 42 U.S.C. § 408 are punishable by 5 years of imprisonment, a fine, or both. However, if the person committing the fraud received a fee for submitting the false statements at issue (i.e. a claimant representative, doctor, or other individual knowingly assisting others in perpetrating Social Security Fraud), then the violation is punishable by 10 years of imprisonment, a fine, or both.
As with other types of fraud (please see our pages on Mail Fraud, Wire Fraud, and Bank Fraud), the mental state of the defendant is always key to proving the alleged violation beyond a reasonable doubt. Fraud requires the intent to defraud. To show this intent, the government must establish through evidence that you made a statement you knew was false, with the hope that someone would rely on that statement to their detriment, that the person did rely on the statement, and that, as a result, they suffered a loss.
Social Security Fraud is no exception. For a false statement to be criminal under 42 U.S.C. § 408, you must have known it was false at the time and intended to receive benefits to which you were not entitled by making the statement. Your attorney will push back against the government’s evidence to try to establish that either your statements were true, or you reasonably believed they were true at the time you made them. They may also be able to argue that, while you made a knowingly false statement, it did not impact your eligibility for Social Security Benefits.
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All federal fraud cases are complex and fact-specific. If you, or someone you know, is being investigated or charged with Social Security Fraud under 42 U.S.C. § 408, call our experienced Los Angeles federal defense attorneys today for a free consultation.