How the Social Security Administration Investigates Fraud

By September 28, 2020 No Comments

For the millions who receive some kind of Social Security benefit, whether traditional Social Security retirement benefits, Supplemental Security Insurance (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), there’s a surprisingly low rate of fraud. 

The SSA reports a fraud rate of a fraction of one percent with a “zero-tolerance approach”. While the vast majority of applicants are lawful and truthful, the SSA still aggressively investigates those who try to cheat the system.

What the SSA Looks for with Social Security Fraud

The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) will look at a number of situations including:

–   Concealing work activity while receiving disability benefits

  • Failure to notify the SSA of a beneficiary’s death and continues to receive benefits 
  • Resides outside the US and receives SSI payments 
  • Receives Social Security benefits for a child they don’t care for 

Fraud can be reported anonymously and the OIG will take a look at a suspect’s entire case to determine if there has been any fraudulent activity. 

What is the Punishment for Social Security Fraud?

In 2015, punishments were increased to include a new felony offense for conspiracy alongside higher criminal and civil penalties. These are serious offenses, so it’s important to know what is and isn’t considered fraud. 

Common Application Mistakes Potentially Viewed as Fraud 

In short, modifying any info on an application that isn’t truthful could be deemed as fraud and thus, denial. It’s important to be 100% accurate and correct on an application as that gives you the best chances of an accepted application. 

If you are approved for benefits, this extends to keeping your medical and financial records accurate and current. If either situation changes, you must notify the SSA as soon as possible in order for them to adjust your benefits accordingly. 


In short, it’s easy to avoid anything related to fraud just by applying and reporting truthfully and accurately. If you’ve had a truthful application denied and you think you’re entitled to benefits, call Drew L. Johnson, P.C. today at (541) 434-6466 to schedule a free consultation.

Drew L. Johnson

Drew L. Johnson

Drew L. Johnson has been fighting for the rights of Lane County Social Security Disability claimants for more than 40 years. Learn More