What is benefits fraud?

The federal government provides to individuals who qualify for social services programs different forms of financial support. Louisiana residents, as well as Americans who live throughout the rest of the country, can apply for government-supported health care if they are above a certain age or fall below a certain threshold of income through Medicare and Medicaid. Men and women who have served the country in the military may be eligible for loans and other support through the Department of Veterans Affairs. Individuals who have worked and who have had income withheld for Social Security may eventually be able to collect their Social Security benefits in their later years of life.

Just as in any program where money is disbursed and managed, government programs are sometimes the target of wrongdoing, and allegations of criminal conduct may be made against individuals who apply for the programs’ benefits. Practically every federal agency that administers a benefits program has an investigation branch that looks into claims of benefits fraud and pursues prosecution of alleged benefits fraud criminals.

Generally, fraud involves deceit and acts of dishonesty, and when it comes to benefits fraud, that fraud can involve deceit and dishonesty in the process of securing government assistance. In some cases a person may be charged with benefits fraud for using someone else’s benefits for himself; organizations can be guilty of benefits fraud when they submit claims for benefits reimbursement when the organizations never provided services or care the benefits holders.

Because the process of securing and using federal benefits can be confusing, there are instances when an agency may accuse a person of fraud when in fact no wrongdoing or malice was present. Readers of this criminal defense law blog who receive federal government benefits and who have been charged with fraud have rights and have the right to defend themselves against criminal allegations based on benefits fraud.

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