You Can’t Take It with You


The Social Security Administration has specific policies regarding the notification of a beneficiary’s death. Normally, a family member, Electronic Death Registration report, death certificate, confirmation by statement from a funeral director or other third party report is sufficient to declare the beneficiary deceased. (The bottom line is that when a Social Security beneficiary dies, the benefit checks are supposed to stop coming.) An article published in The News Star tells about a woman who failed to report that her father died and continued to collect his Social Security benefits for nearly 16 years.

The story states that the daughter also lied to agency representatives that her father was alive. (This allowed her to collect more than $119,000.) The article does not say whether the agency representative questioned the daughter in person or not during the almost 16-year period. (If they had, perhaps suspicions would have been raised earlier. Unfortunately, the government doesn’t have the resources to investigate every single questionable situation.)

The 43-year-old woman was sentenced to 21 months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release. She was also ordered to pay $119,258 in restitution.

More than 2.5 million people die each year in the United States, and in most cases, the government handles it correctly. But, there are always those instances where the death is not recorded and monthly benefits continue to be paid out to a family member or beneficiary who does not deserve the funds. Just as the deceased can’t take their Social Security benefits with them when they die, neither will this fraudster be able to take any of the illegally gained funds with her to jail.

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article titled, ”Monroe Woman Sentenced to Social Security Fraud,” published in The News Star on April 17, 2015.

A Monroe woman was sentenced this week to 21 months in prison for receiving more than $119,000 in Social Security benefits intended for her father who had died years before.

Jessica Lewis, 43, was sentenced Monday by U.S. District Judge Robert G. James on one count of theft of government property. She also was sentenced to three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $119,258 restitution.

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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.