Social Security Fraud Prevention
Social Security provides benefits to about one-fifth of the American population and serves as a vital protection for working men and women, children, people with disabilities, and the elderly. The agency paid about $887 billion in Social Security benefits to almost 60 million individuals in 2015. More than 8 million people annually receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Beyond those who receive benefits, about 165 million people pay Social Security taxes and will benefit from the program in the future. That means nearly every American has an interest in Social Security, and we’re committed to protecting their investment in these vital programs.
Because the agency’s benefit programs are so far-reaching and complex, we face the ongoing challenge of protecting the programs from fraud. To meet this challenge, we work closely with our Office of the Inspector General (OIG), which Congress has designated the agency lead for fraud detection and prevention.
Tools we use to fight fraud
In close coordination with OIG, Social Security uses a variety of proven techniques that identify fraud and help investigators analyze suspicious or questionable claims. We are successful at combating fraud by using data analytics, collaborating with various agencies to pool investigative resources, and employing technology to root out fraud. Below are a few examples of Social Security’s anti-fraud initiatives.
The Cooperative Disability Investigations (CDI) program is one of Social Security’s most successful anti-fraud initiatives. CDI units bring together personnel from Social Security, OIG, state disability determination services (DDS), and state and local law enforcement agencies to analyze and investigate suspicious or questionable Social Security disability claims. Currently, we have 37 units covering 31 states, Puerto Rico, and Washington DC. The CDI units primarily resolve suspected fraud before benefits are ever paid. The efforts of the CDI units help disability examiners make informed decisions, ensure payment accuracy, and generate significant taxpayer savings, for both federal and state programs. According to the Office of the Inspector General, CDI units contributed more than $1 billion to agency savings over the last three fiscal years.
Social Security fraud prosecutors work with offices of the U.S. Attorney around the country to bring federal criminal charges against individuals who defraud Social Security programs. These prosecutors obtain criminal sanctions to include imprisonment, and recover funds for the agency through criminal restitution and forfeiture.
How to Report Fraud
If you suspect fraud or representative payee misuse, please complete the fraud report at www.ssa.gov/fraudreport/oig/public_fraud_reporting/form.htm or call the Fraud Hotline: 1-800-269-0271.