Blissful Ignorance


It is important for a government program beneficiary to be well-informed about the rules regarding the financial assistance they qualify for and receive – especially if they want to continue to receive it. (Ignorance is not bliss when it comes to getting free money from the government.) An article posted on tells about a woman who did not follow the rules regarding her Social Security benefits and received more than $23,000 that she did not deserve.

The story mentions that over a five-year period of time, the woman travelled out of the United States for more than 30 days at a time on eight separate occasions. She hid her travels from the Social Security Administration (SSA) so that she could continue to receive her Supplemental Security Income benefits. (Either she was completely unaware that the SSA has explicit restrictions on foreign travel, or she thought her illegal actions would never be detected.)

The SSA states in a brochure about receiving benefits when outside of the country that, ”once you have been out of the U.S. for at least 30 days in a row, you are considered to be outside the country until you return and stay in the U.S. for at least 30 days in a row. If you are not a U.S. citizen, you also may have to prove that you were lawfully present in the United States for that 30-day period.” (I’d say that’s a pretty clear statement.)

The 44-year-old pleaded guilty to one count of Supplemental Security Income benefits fraud. She is facing a maximum of five years in prison followed by three years of supervised release, a $250,000 fine and a $100 special assessment fee.

There are exceptions to the rules regarding the receipt of SSA benefits while overseas also addressed by the SSA brochure; however, it appears this woman did not qualify under any of them. Perhaps she didn’t know that her benefits were voided while travelling out of the country. (If so, then what she did not know definitely hurt her and others who could have and would have received benefits by following the rules.)

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article titled, ”Woman Pleads Guilty to $23K in Social Security Fraud,” posted on on July 24, 2015.

SIOUX CITY, Iowa — A Webster City woman has pleaded guilty to Social Security fraud in which authorities say she received over $23,000 in benefits.

According to a news release from U.S. Attorney Kevin Techau, 44-year-old Karlotta Venegas pleaded guilty Thursday to one count of supplemental security income benefits fraud.

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Larry Benson
Larry Benson is currently the Director of Strategic Alliances for Revenue Discovery and Recovery at LexisNexis Risk Solutions. In this role, Benson is responsible for developing partnerships for the tax and revenue and child support enforcement verticals. He focuses on embedded companies that have a need for third-party analytics to enhance their current offerings.