En Español | Q. If you see that someone's cheating Social Security, what can you do about it?
A. You can report it to the Social Security Administration's Office of the Inspector General (OIG).
You can make your report in one of several ways:
Online: Go to this SSA Web page.
Phone: 800-269-0271 (TTY: 866-501-2101 toll-free for deaf or hard of hearing)
Mail: Social Security Fraud Hotline
P.O. Box 17785
Baltimore, MD, 21235-7785
The OIG investigates people suspected of obtaining or using Social Security benefits to which they are not entitled. For example, this includes people who:
- Receive disability benefits but conceal their work.
- Receive Social Security for a child, even though the child is not under their care.
- Fail to notify SSA of the death of a beneficiary and continue to receive and cash the checks of the deceased.
- Conceal assets while receiving payments under the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program.
From Oct. 1, 2011, to March 31, 2012, the OIG received 63,368 allegations of various kinds of wrongdoing. As a result, investigators opened 3,969 cases, which resulted in 703 criminal convictions. In some cases, that meant jail time.
One case involved an Oregon woman who concealed the fact that her father had died. For 26 years, she received monthly Social Security, federal and military benefits intended for her father. After the woman pled guilty to the theft of government property, she was sentenced to 18 months in prison and ordered to pay restitution of $95,000 to Social Security, $302,000 to the Office of Personnel Management and $405,000 to the Defense Finance and Accounting Service.
For more information on the Office of the Inspector General, visit its Web page.
Stan Hinden, a former columnist for The Washington Post, wrote How to Retire Happy: The 12 Most Important Decisions You Must Make Before You Retire. Have a question for the Social Security Mailbox? Check out the archive. If you don't find your answer there, send a query.