22 Disability Fraud Statistics on Social Security for 2022

Disability fraud is a very serious problem in the eyes of the legal system. So much so that it’s an offense that could get you imprisoned if you’re found guilty of it.

So, let’s take a look at a few intriguing and potentially concerning social security disability fraud statistics and shed some light on just how common and severe it is today.

Let’s dive into it!

Top 10 Disability Fraud Statistics and Facts

  • The disability fraud incidence rate in the US is lower than 1%.
  • Cooperative Disability Investigations Program greatly helps with fraud prevention.
  • Social Security fraud can lead to five years in prison.
  • The financial punishment for disability fraud may go up to $250,000.
  • Doctors participating in disability fraud can face up to 10 years in prison. 
  • There were 345,000 suspicious disability claims in California at the beginning of 2022. 
  • EDD flagged 27,000 medical provider accounts as suspicious in early 2022 in California. 
  • National Slam the Scam Day is celebrated on March 10.
  • Disability benefits recipients live only five years after getting approved for benefits. 
  • A whopping 63% of the SSDI applications get denied.

General Stats and Facts About Social Security Disability and Its Recipients

Before diving into disability fraud numbers, we’ll look at some basic statistics regarding Social Security disability benefits and their users.

Keep reading!

1. According to 2022 statistics, over nine million US citizens receive Social Security disability benefits. 

(Source: Social Security Administration)

SSDI beneficiaries consisted of disabled workers (7.84 million), spouses of disabled workers (94), and children of disabled workers (1.24 million). 

2. As many as 85% of beneficiaries with Social Security disability status in 2020 were workers. 

(Source: Social Security Administration)

They accounted for the largest share of disabled beneficiaries.

3. The majority of disabled beneficiaries in 2020 were male.

(Source: Social Security Administration)

Out of the total of 8,151,016 disabled workers, 4,100,636 were men.

4. As many as 33.8% of disabled workers had musculoskeletal system diseases in 2020. 

(Source: Social Security Administration)

Musculoskeletal system diseases were the largest category of diagnoses in 2020. The second most frequent category was various mental disorders (25.4%).

5. Only about 17% of Social Security disability keep working after getting approved for benefits.

(Source: Trantolo & Trantolo)

This is because most beneficiaries have debilitating medical conditions that prevent them from doing any type of work. 

6. On average, Social Security disability benefits recipients live only five years after getting approved for benefits. 

(Source: Social Security Administration / Trantolo & Trantolo)

This is because people eligible for SSD benefits typically have long-lasting medical conditions so severe that they often result in death.

Social Security Disability Fraud Statistics and Facts

Now, let’s get down to disability fraud stats and find out how common fraud is, what are the most common fraud methods, ways the SSA combats fraudulent activity, and other interesting details.

7. The disability fraud incidence rate in the US is lower than 1%. 

(Source: Social Security Administration)

Such a low percentage results from the SSA’s zero-tolerance policy against fraudsters.

8. There were 345,000 suspicious disability claims in California at the beginning of 2022. 

(Source: The Sacramento Bee)

Most of the questionable claims appeared to be fraudulent, showing that the disability fraud rate in California has been on the rise since the COVID-19 pandemic struck. 

9. EDD flagged 27,000 medical provider accounts as suspicious in early 2022 in California. 

(Source: EDD)

EDD corroborated that 98% of the accounts claiming to be health clinics or physicians were likely fraudulent. Only 485 questionable medical provider accounts managed to prove their identity. 

10. Cooperative Disability Investigations Program is one of the most effective measures for lowering the Social Security disability fraud rate

(Source: Social Security Administration)

This program has the potential to prevent fraud before it even happens, as it investigates questionable applications early (before granting benefits takes place). This resulted in saving an estimated $188.5 million in the fiscal year 2018. 

11. Scammers often use fraudulent phone calls to commit Social Security scams. 

(Source: FTC / OIG / Social Security Administration)

Imposters often impersonate SSA officials, trying to get your personal information or money. Recently, the tone of the calls has become increasingly threatening, demanding you to disclose personal data, threatening to suspend your Social Security benefits if you refuse, etc.

Sometimes, the imposters will make the SSA’s actual phone number (1-800-772-1213) appear on your screen, but it won’t be the SSA on the other end of the line.

This technique is called phishing, and other scamming strategies involve fraudulent emails, texts, and even direct mail.

12. National Slam the Scam Day is celebrated on March 10.

(Source: OIG)

This initiative falls under the FTC’s National Consumer Protection Week lasting through March 6–12. 

It began in 2020, its primary goal initially being to combat the Social-Security-related frauds, but it’s expanding to include other types of scams relating to government imposter scams.

Social Security Disability and Extra Benefits

This section will tackle Supplemental Security Income (SSI), a monthly program aimed at children or adults with disability or blindness whose resources are below a certain limit, and its relationship with SSD benefits. 

13. You can qualify for SSI even if you’re already receiving other Social Security benefits. 

(Source: Social Security Administration)

In other words, you may still be eligible for SSI monthly payments even if you’re currently receiving SSDI.  

14. In January 2022, over 1.2 million disabled beneficiaries under 65 received both Social Security and SSI. 

(Source: Social Security Administration)

The number includes disabled children that receive SSI based on their own disability.

15. An SSDI or SSI applicant must make under $1,310 a month to be eligible for benefits.  

(Source: Nolo)

Individuals who make amounts over the prescribed limit mentioned above are considered to be doing a substantial gainful activity (SGA).

Disadvantages of the Social Security Disability Program

This section will mention some downsides of being a Social Security disability beneficiary, like denials on applications, wait time before the benefits come in, and more, so read on.

16. It’s difficult to pass SSDI applications. 

(Source: The Injury and Disability Law Center)

On average, a whopping 63% of the SSDI applications get denied.  

Some of the main reasons for application denial include lack of medical evidence documenting one’s disability, the existence of previous denials, being able to work and earn money, failure to adequately cooperate with SSA, and failure to follow doctor’s advice regarding treatment. 

17. It takes five months for Social Security disability insurance benefits to start coming in.

(Source: The Law Office of Brendan Conley)

This means you won’t receive any disability benefits for at least the first five months of being disabled. The legal waiting period may also be extended due to various external factors (e.g., application denials, etc.) to six months or even longer.

18. Social security disability checks are quite meager. 

(Source: Social Security Administration)

Social Security disability status won’t make you a millionaire. On the contrary, disability benefits are typically only high enough to keep you above the line of poverty. 

On average, disability insurance monthly benefits amounted to $1,222.75 in January 2022. Disabled workers received about $1,358.50, while their spouses and children received $376.51 and $428.84, respectively.

19. Benefits can be taxed.

(Source: Social Security Administration)

If your overall income exceeds $25,000, your benefits will be taxed. The limit for couples amounts to $32,000. 

Those who need to file back taxes can learn how to do it through this guide.

Legal Penalties for Committing Disability Fraud

After reviewing the most relevant Social Security disability fraud statistics, it’s time to address the consequences of this criminal act. 

So, let’s find out what happens if you happen to commit fraud.

20. Social Security fraud can lead to five years in prison.

(Source: The Good Law Group)

The convict can also be subject to a fine of up to $250,000. 

21. Fines and jail time don’t necessarily have to be mutually exclusive. 

(Source: The Good Law Group)

Social Security disability fraud sentences can include both a financial fine and a prison sentence.

22. Doctors and other representatives participating in disability fraud can face up to 10 years in prison. 

(Source: The Good Law Group)

For people in positions crucial for SSDI claims, participating in fraud can also include fines of $7,500 per false statement. 

As most of these frauds happen over the internet, where over 2,200 cyberattacks are happening daily, this is a great preventive measure against online disability fraud.

Conclusion

Getting approved for Social Security benefits can be a long process with a lot of paperwork, and, as you could have noticed from the disability fraud statistics above, some people get tempted to cut corners and commit fraud. 

However, due to the SSA’s zero-tolerance approach to this and rigorous verification processes, the percentage of fraud occurrence has been reduced to a bare minimum (under 1%).

FAQ

What is considered fraud for Social Security disability?

(Source: The Good Law Group)

The Social Security Administration recognizes many types of fraudulent behavior concerning disability claims. 

Some of them include:

  • Providing false information on your SSDI benefits application
  • Falsifying medical records
  • Not reporting changes in your medical condition to the SSA
  • Not reporting changes in your employment status
  • Not reporting the recipient’s death, etc.

How to report disability fraud?

(Source: Social Security Administration)

You can report disability fraud through SSA’s hotline at 1-800-269-0271. You can also do so on the internet

The process is simple — you only have to file an online report at https://oig.ssa.gov/ with details such as location, time and description of the fraud, as well as how the fraud was committed.

What happens if you're found guilty of disability fraud?

(Source: The Good Law Group)

If you’re convicted of disability fraud, you can face up to five years in prison, a $250,000 fine, or both. 

According to disability fraud statistics, jail time can amount to up to 10 years, and fines can go as high as $7,500 per false statement for medical professionals, representatives, and other authorized figures participating in disability fraud.

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