SSA logo: link to Social Security Online home143. Fraud In Connection With Benefit Claims And Earnings Records

143.1 When can you be prosecuted for Social Security fraud?

You may be prosecuted as a criminal for fraud if you knowingly:

  1. Furnish false information as to your identity in connection with the establishment and maintenance of Social Security records;

  2. For the purpose of increasing your payment under Social Security or any other Federally funded program; or for the purpose of obtaining such payment:

    1. Use a Social Security number obtained on the basis of false information; or

    2. Falsely represent a number to be your Social Security number;

  3. Make or cause to be made a false statement or misrepresentation of a material fact for use in determining your rights to Social Security or SSI benefits;

  4. Make or cause to be made any false statement or representation as to:

    1. Whether wages were paid to you, the period during which wages were paid, or the amount of your wages; or

    2. Whether you have net earnings from self-employment, the amount of your earnings, or the period during which you earned the money;

  5. Conceal or fail to report any event affecting the initial or continued right to payment received or to be received by you personally or on behalf of another; or

  6. Use payment received on behalf of another for any purpose other than the use for the benefit of that person.

Other penal provisions contained in the Social Security Act or in the Federal Criminal Code may also apply to offenses affecting the Social Security program.

We will prosecute even if a fraudulent act is discovered before wrongful payments are made by the Government.

143.2 What is the penalty for conviction?

The penalty upon conviction for violation of the penal provisions of the Social Security Act, or one of the related provisions of the Federal Criminal Code may be a fine, imprisonment, or both. The penalty ranges from a fine of not more than $500, imprisonment of one year, or both, to a fine of not more than $10,000, imprisonment of not more than 15 years, or both. The penalty depends upon the specific law violated.

Last Revised: Apr. 18, 2006