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The Vacation is Over

Senior Director of Strategic Alliances
LexisNexis Risk Solutions - Government

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a Federal Income supplement program funded by general tax revenues designed to help aged, blind, and disabled people who have little or no income. The program provides cash for qualified vulnerable individuals who need food, clothing, and shelter. Paul Gracey, 57, formerly of Vermont, was a disabled man who was qualified to receive SSI, but he didn’t follow the program rules and was found guilty of fraudulently obtaining the government benefits.

Gracey was deemed eligible to receive SSI through the Social Security Administration (SSA) in October 2014. He moved to Mexico in February 2017. (I can see why he’d prefer to live in Mexico. I’d prefer warm temperatures vs. harsh Vermont winters too.)

Keep in mind, with limited exception, that SSI benefits are only available to U.S. residents. SSI beneficiaries who leave the United States for more than 30 days are not considered to be eligible to receive SSI benefits until they are back in the country for at least 30 days in a row. (Mr. Gracey thought he could keep receiving those benefits while living in Mexico for several years.)

As an SSI beneficiary, Gracey was required by law to report his move in a timely manner. (If he had only notified the SSA by March 2017, all would have been fine.) This error of omission made Gracey ineligible for SSI benefits until he reestablished residency in the U.S. for at least 30 days.

Some fraudsters get caught because of their illegal activity on social media. Gracey falls into this category. (While he failed to report his move to Mexico, Gracey had no problem sharing his years of adventures in Mexico on Facebook. I’m sure in hindsight, he is kicking himself.)

Gracey also asked several individuals in the U.S. to let him use their address as his own for reporting to the SSA, so he would continue to receive his SSI benefits. As a result, Gracey obtained $37,743 in SSI benefits that he was not entitled to receive.

Gracey pleaded guilty to theft of government funds. His sentencing is scheduled for April 26, 2022. (I guess you could say the vacation is over.)

Today’s Fraud of the Day comes from an article, “Former Vermont Man Pleads Guilty to Theft of Government Funds,” published by the United States Attorney’s Office (District of New Hampshire) on January 11, 2022.    

CONCORD – Paul Gracey, 57, formerly of Vermont, pleaded guilty on Monday in federal court to theft of government funds, United States Attorney John J. Farley announced today.  

According to court documents and statements made in court, in October 2014, Gracey was found disabled and eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) through the Social Security Administration (SSA).  With limited exception, SSI benefits are available only to U.S. residents.  Beneficiaries who leave the United States for more than 30 days or more consecutively are not considered to be back in the United States until the individual resides in the United States again for 30 days in a row.

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