As loved ones get older or suffer disabling conditions, they may rely on the funds they receive from the Social Security Administration to meet their needs. Social Security is a federal program that provides income to those who qualify, with the goal of preventing them from struggling to maintain a reasonable standard of living. Since taxpayers fund the program, the government is zealous about seeking out and prosecuting those who abuse the system through fraud. Anyone who faces such federal charges would be wise to build a strong criminal defense strategy.
This may be the case for more than a dozen people across the state of Florida, accused of committing fraud against the Social Security system. The cases are not related, but they total more than $1 million in benefits allegedly obtained illegally. In all cases, the prosecution contends that the accused continued to receive Social Security benefits for loved ones after they died.
Harsh penalties for conviction
Most Social Security benefits end immediately upon the death of the recipient. However, a family member must contact the SSA to discontinue those payments. Those facing fraud charges allegedly continued to receive the benefits for parents, spouses or siblings for numerous years after they died. In one case, a woman supposedly continued to collect more than $200,000 in benefits after her husband died in 2008.
Apparently, the 13 people under arrest in Florida are only a fraction of those the government is investigating for Social Security fraud. The penalties, if convicted, include as long as 10 years in prison. With so much at stake, it is wise for one to begin preparing one’s criminal defense as early as possible after learning they are under investigation.