20 CFR 416.535 and 416.570

SSR 84-23

The claimant fraudulently applied for and received supplemental security income (SSI) payments under an assumed name. As a result, she was indicted for mail fraud and for making false statements to a Federal agency. The claimant pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud and the other five counts of the indictment were dismissed. Held, because civil proceedings to recover an overpayment following the disposition of criminal charges are not barred by the double jeopardy provisions of the Fifth Amendment, the Social Security Administration (SSA) is not precluded from recouping the overpayment that resulted when the claimant fraudulently received SSI payments.

The claimant was indicted on February 14, 1983, for violations of 18 U.S.C. section 1341 (mail fraud) and 18 U.S.C. section 1001 (fraud and false statements to a Federal agency) in connection with her applications for and receipt of SSI payments under an assumed name. On May 31, 1983, the claimant pleaded guilty to a single count of mail fraud (18 U.S.C. section 1341); the five other counts of the indictment were then dismissed. She was sentenced to one year in prison. However, after the claimant was confined in a community treatment center for 30 days, the remainder of her sentence was suspended and she was placed on probation for three years. The claimant was also ordered to make restitution of $486.00 -- although her SSI overpayment totaled $34,441.20 -- and to perform one hundred hours of community service work during each year of the probationary period.

Recently, the claimant contacted her local Social Security office and requested reinstatement of her SSI payments. This raises the question as to whether the dismissal of five or six criminal charges in the February 14, 1983, indictment precludes SSA from recouping the outstanding overpayment balance of $33,955.20 from future SSI payments.

The claimant's civil liability for SSI overpayments was not at issue in the criminal proceedings which terminated with the Federal district court order of May 31, 1983. That order only disposed of the criminal charges enumerated in the indictment. The order has no effect on civil remedies available to SSA. The Fifth Amendment prohibition against double jeopardy applies only to successive criminal proceedings. U.S. v. Lasky, 600 F.2d 765 (9th Cir. 1979). It is well established that a criminal penalty and a subsequent civil remedy may be exacted for a single act. United States ex rel. Marcus v. Hess, 317 U.S. 537, 63 S.Ct. 379 (1943); Berdick v. U.S., 612 F.2d 533 (Ct. Cl. 1979) (Government civil counterclaim under False Claims Act (31 U.S.C. §§ 231-35) against plaintiff previously convicted under 18 U.S.C. section 1001 not barred by double jeopardy provisions of Fifth Amendment). Here, SSA's claim for recovery of the overpayment is based on the provisions of section 1631(b) of the Social Security Act. The civil authority to obtain repayment is distinct from and altogether unrelated to the criminal sanctions of 18 U.S.C. sections 1001 and 1341.

Accordingly, the disposition of the criminal case against the claimant does not preclude SSA from recouping the overpayment balance, if the statutory and regulatory prerequisites for recoupment are present.

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