Established as a result of the Inspector General Act of 1978, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) of the Social Security Administration (SSA) is generally responsible for preventing and investigating incidences of fraud, waste, and abuse within and against the SSA. SSA OIG Criminal Investigators are fully credentialed federal criminal investigators granted the same authority to enforce assigned laws and regulations as special agents of the FBI, ATF, or DEA. Most of the criminal cases investigated by the SSA OIG are white collar in nature and therefore not generally as exciting as those investigated by some of the more publicized federal law enforcement agencies.
The SSA OIG is subdivided into five separate offices, each responsible for a different function of the OIG. The Office of Investigations is the office of the SSA OIG that is responsible for investigating allegations of “fraud, waste, abuse and mismanagement in SSA programs and operations”. Special Agents of the SSA OIG also investigate criminal acts and incidences of fraud that occur within the social security system committed by “applicants, beneficiaries, contractors, third parties, or SSA employees performing their official duties”. Criminal investigators of the SSA may be required to work jointly with other federal law enforcement agencies when both agencies share an interest in the same case or individual.
Following a major investigation, Special Agents of the SSA OIG may also be called upon to testify in front on Congress on matters relating to government waste or crimes against the government and how to prevent such incidences in the future. As law enforcers, Special Agents of the SSA OIG will routinely interview, search, detain, and/or apprehend individuals while investigating crimes, and may also execute search or arrest warrants in pursuit of criminals. Special Agents assigned to the Office of Investigation of the are expected to routinely carry firearms during the performance of their duties and must therefore qualify to carry a firearm on a regular basis.
Some of the most well known criminal cases investigated by the Social Security Administration include those that involve the illegal collection of social security benefits by those unqualified to receive them, identity theft, and even incidences of people attempting to conceal the deaths of loved ones in an effort to continue collecting cash from social security payments after the person receiving them has died. Social security fraud is taken very seriously by the government because it is the taxpayers who foot the bill when others choose to lie about needing assistance. Punishments for those found guilty of social security fraud can range anywhere from surrender of benefits paid all the way up to several years in prison, depending on the severity of the offense and the specific circumstances of the case.
About the OIG. Office of the Inspector General. Social Security Online.
Offices. Office of the Inspector General. Social Security Online.