Social Security Administration employee gets kickbacksThink its tough to get Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits? Apparently it may be as simple as bribing the right Social Security Administration employee. CNN reports, one Social Security Administration (SSA) employee has been charged with demanding and receiving $55,000 in kickbacks from Washington D.C. SSI recipients to approve disability applications for those seeking disability benefits.
Christopher Payton, of Mount Rainier, has been charged for accepting and receiving bribes as a public official. The forty-six year old was employed in Southeast Washington in the SSA office in Anacostia. His job was to approve Supplemental Security Income benefits for blind, disabled, and elderly people who have little or no income.
SSI applicants pay for benefits approval
Christopher Payton, according to charging documents from January 2013 to May 2013, used his influence and position at the SSA to get an estimated thirteen SSI applicants to pay him to either increase their SSI benefits or to approve their SSI application. Payton told them, in substance, that if they gave Payton a tip, Payton would take care of them, according to charging documents.
Kickbacks from SSI recipients came after Christopher Payton authorized illegal retroactive SSI payments to recipients bank accounts. After the money was received Payton would contact recipients in the neighborhood and they would pay him for their increases. Christopher Payton received an estimated $54,700 in bribes over a five month period.
Corruption in the Social Security Administration
This arrest is not the first for the SSA who as recently as January of this year arrested more than 100 people in another fraud case. In this case there were an estimated 106 people indicted, including 102 disability beneficiaries and four middlemen, or facilitators, two recruiters, an attorney, and a disability consultant. Unfortunately, this case of fraud cost the SSA an estimated $23 million.
These cases are especially concerning given the sharp increase in disability benefits which have been awarded in the last several years. Right now approximately 11 million Americans collect Social Security disability benefits, with the government paying them close to $140 billion. Like other entitlement programs, the amount of funds collected to fund SSI and SSDI are not sufficient, and the program is likely to exhaust its trust fund reserves by 2016.
The SSA also remains under pressure by Congress to rework the system. Under question are some of the decisions by the more than 1,500 administrative law judges who decide appeals and who have to decide thousands of cases each year. According to report, Some of those judges are now under scrutiny, facing allegations that the reviews were perfunctory at best.
Fraudulent activities make it increasingly difficult for those who are truly disabled to receive the benefits they need. If SSI and SSDI payments are made to those who are not truly disabled it will also deplete benefits in the trust fund to those who are disabled.