The official Social Security Administration website states that the number of reports on scams and fraudulent social security activities, in general, is increasing. Furthermore, a large number of social security abuses are not purposeful.
If you’re worried about your data and you’re not sure how to protect yourself, don’t panic! Our article on 20+ alarming social security abuse statistics to watch out for will tell you everything you need to know on this topic. We’ll also make sure to cover the most common ways people get scammed as well as frequent errors in benefit claims so you can learn how to avoid scams and keep your personal info safe.
Quick Social Security Stats & Facts (Editor’s Picks)
- In a 3-month-period, a minimum of $96 million is lost in the US due to social security imposter scams
- In the Q3 of 2020, more than 113,000 imposter scam reports were filed
- Improper welfare payments account for nearly 16% of all federal welfare payments
- More than 60% of improper welfare payments due to eligibility errors go to ineligible homes
- Almost 60% of Americans believe it’s common for people to lie about their SNAP eligibility
- The 3rd most popular scams that target elders are medicare and health insurance scams
- 90% of SSDI abuse claims are unfounded
- One-third of workers die or become disabled before they retire
About Social Security
According to the official SSA data, almost 70 million Americans receive benefits from social security programs every year. Around 55% of them are women. Moreover, more than 5 million U.S. citizens started receiving social security benefits in 2020.
But, what is the social security cost per year? Social Security takes up around 23% of the budget. Its programs do not only provide benefits for retirees. The Administration has various plans for people with disabilities, survivors, and those in need, and it’s considered one of the most successful anti-poverty programs.
The average monthly social security check is a bit over $1,500. However, the actual amount you will receive depends on various factors. For instance, if you had a higher income during your employment years, you will likely receive larger checks. In addition, the age at which you start receiving benefits is also an important factor. Thankfully, those who want to know how much they will eventually receive can easily find everything they need to know online or call the SSA.
Social Security Abuse statistics: Fraud and Scams
When talking about Social Security abuse, we need to differentiate two main types of fraud. The first one is when someone obtains certain assets by misrepresenting themselves and the facts to receive benefits. Some common examples are false statements for social security administration data when filing claims, bribing Social Security workers, concealing specific facts or events such as failing to notify the agency of a beneficiary’s death to continue receiving its checks. Furthermore, any kind of misuse of benefits by a beneficiary is considered fraud.
On the other hand, social security beneficiaries can be victims of various frauds and scams. Impersonation of Social Security employees on calls, texts, and emails is a recurrent way beneficiaries get scammed. Other ways to commit social security fraud are buying and selling Social Security cards, filling under somebody else’s Social Security number, and misusing grant funds.
1. The median loss of social security scams is $1.500 per victim.
Though average social security check by state varies, retirees, for example, usually get less than $1,500 a month. Thus, they would be losing their whole month’s check if they become a victim of a scam!
2. Americans lost $226 million to email scams in 2019.
Social Security stats from the Federal Trade Commission show that around 92,000 people reported an email scam in 2019. The most common form of an email scam is phishing. Phishing is identity theft where the scammer creates a fraudulent email, text, or a whole website to scam the victim by asking for sensitive data.
Find out how to deter identity theft.
As many younger people know about this threat, the largest number of social security email scams target elders. If this happens to you, you should file a police report for identity theft.
3. At least $96 million is lost in the United States in 3 months due to social security imposter scams.
To put it simply, an imposter scam is when someone reaches out to you pretending they’re someone they’re not and asks you for money or your data. As social security imposter scams are pretty frequent, the losses are extremely high.
4. Over 113,000 imposter scam reports were filed in the third quarter of 2020.
Social security fraud statistics do not include the number of unreported cases. The Federal Trade Commission claims that a large number of scams go unreported. The main reason for that is the embarrassment victims feel after getting scammed.
Welfare Fraud Stats
During his presidency, Donald Trump warned about the growing amount of welfare fraud. But, what do the official numbers show? Is welfare fraud that common?
According to the official stats, almost 60 million people are monthly welfare recipients in America. When it comes to the demographics of welfare recipients, people under 18 constitute around 41% of the total number of recipients. Seniors who are 65 years old or older make up approximately 12% of the population on welfare.
5. Improper welfare payments make up almost 16% of all federal welfare payments.
(Federal Safety Net)
This percentage was reported by the Office of Management and Budget, the General Accounting Office (GAO), and was found in the Inspector General’s reports. In 2020, the cost of welfare fraud, and improper welfare payments in general, was $129 billion.
6. Over 60% of improper welfare payments are caused by eligibility errors.
Eligibility errors often occur when recipients do not provide their correct information. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean enrollees submitted incorrect data on purpose.
So, the percentage of people abusing welfare on purpose is a bit more difficult to verify due to the frequent accidental errors. The errors often happen because of automatic renewals and pre-filled forms. They can lead to people leaving out vital info that would make them ineligible for a particular program.
7. Less than 1% of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program food stamps go to ineligible homes.
This welfare fraud percentage shows that fraud in the food stamp program in the United States is pretty rare. Also, reports indicate that most of the situations result from honest mistakes by recipients, state workers, or technology.
8. 59% of Americans believe it’s common for people to lie about their SNAP eligibility.
A survey by YouGov on welfare and social security abuse statistics shows that one in six adults in the United States doesn’t trust the Americans applying for the SNAP program. On the other hand, 47% of them trust the SNAP program to operate correctly.
9. In the UK, total welfare fraud and error overpayments totaled 2.4% in 2019/20.
Around 1.4% of that amount was related to fraud. Moreover, the total overpayment value was £4.6 billion. Welfare fraud and error payments in universal credit reached 9.4%, followed by housing benefit — 6%.
Medicare Fraud Stats
Medicare is a health insurance program mainly used by people over 65 years old, people with specific disabilities, and end-stage renal (kidney) diseases. It has three main parts. Part A presents hospital insurance, which also includes care in nursing facilities. Part B is medical insurance, while Part D covers prescription drugs, including many shots and vaccines.
10. Medicare covers 18% of Americans.
According to the latest available data, the number of Americans covered by Medicare is growing. The 18% presents an increase of almost 1% compared to the previous year.
11. Medicare and health insurance scams are the 3rd most popular scams that target elders.
Social security fraud statistics show a rising number of medicare fraud reports this year due to the pandemic. Calls offering a cure for the COVID-19 and generic testing are some of the newer fraud trends you should watch out for.
12. 36% of the people in the United States think Americans frequently lie about their eligibility for Medicare benefits.
YouGov published a survey that dealt with SSA statistics about the percentage of Americans who believe people often lie about their eligibility to get into a particular program. Medicare came fifth when it comes to untruthful information people think is shared. Programs with a higher number of misrepresentations, according to the public, are SNAP, TANF, Medicaid, and CHIP.
What is Social Security Disability Insurance? How many people receive it? What does the amount you receive depend on? Before we get to the fraud portion, it’s important that we cover basic info on the SSDI for all those confused about this program’s purpose.
13. The cost of disability insurance can go from 1% to 4% of a worker’s annual income.
The average disability insurance rates depend on many factors. One of the most important is the longevity of the policy. For instance, if a worker opts for a long-term policy with a longer elimination period, they will pay less.
14. On average, disabled workers receive $1,259 in insurance every month.
The average social security disability benefits stat comes from the average earnings during a worker’s life. It’s not based on the type of disability, the severity of the situation, nor the household income. After you begin your application for these benefits, the whole process can take up to five months before you start receiving them.
15. Disabled workers make up over 85% of the total number of SSDI recipients.
A disabled worker is a beneficiary who worked long enough in SSDI covered employment and worked at that type of employment until the onset of the disability. Currently, over 8 million workers receive disabled-worker benefits in the United States.
16. More than 11% of SSDI recipients are children.
We made sure to cover the info on children with disability statistics for all those wondering how many children of the disabled workers are recipients of SSDI. According to the latest data, disabled widows and widowers with children make up 2.5% of the total number of recipients.
17. 1 in 3 workers dies or becomes disabled before they retire.
(Center on Budget and Policy Priorities)
SSDI statistics show that the chances of becoming disabled are the same for male and female workers – 25%. On the other hand, men are 5% more likely to die before reaching their retirement age than women.
18. 50-year-olds are two times more likely to start receiving SSDI than people in their forties.
(Center on Budget and Policy Priorities)
If we look into the disability insurance facts, we can see that the likelihood of workers needing SSDI increases every decade. As a matter of fact, 60-year-olds are twice as likely to start receiving disability insurance than people aged 50.
19. 8% of the population in Alabama receives SSDI.
Social security disability statistics by the state show that Alabama has the highest number of SSDI beneficiaries. Arkansas also has a high number of beneficiaries: 7.9%. States with the lowest number of beneficiaries are Utah, with 2.6%, California, which has 2.7%, and Colorado, with 2.8% of SSDI beneficiaries.
Social Security Disability Fraud Statistics
The types of fraud that we mentioned can be found in the SSDI cases as well. People with disabilities have often misrepresented the severity of their disabilities, not reporting their actual state, to continue receiving benefits.
Even though there is no excuse for committing fraud, sometimes, the rigid rules related to these benefits can force people to lie on their claims. One of the appalling facts about people with disabilities that receive benefits is that additional exercises that are believed healthy can cause loss of disability benefits in some countries. For instance, in the UK, the Disability Sports Organization reported that over 80% of disabled people would like to be more active, but 47% fear losing benefits. Around 34% of people surveyed had their benefits removed for being active or know someone that had this issue.
20. The U.S. disability investigation program has 49 units.
Have you ever wondered who works on the SSDI cases around the country? One of the more interesting Social Security disability facts is that the United States created the Cooperative Disability Investigations program to prevent and detect fraud in the Social Security disability benefits. The CDI is one of the most successful initiatives when it comes to detecting fraud. Its primary purpose is to work with Social Security, state disability determination services, and local law enforcement to investigate benefit claims.
21. Eligibility Investigations for the Social Security disability programs save up to $188 million in one year.
According to official estimates, the CDI program saves over $180 million every year to keep the disability abuse statistics under control. Since the program was established, its actions resulted in over $4 billion in projected savings to the Social Security Administration. Moreover, the program saved billions of dollars for the non-SSA programs as well.
22. 9 in 10 claims of SSDI abuse are unfounded.
(Disability News Service)
If you’re wondering how many abuse claims have legal grounds, the numbers might surprise you. According to the latest numbers, almost 90% of alleged fraud claims are proven to be non-fraudulent. The number of unfounded abuse claims is the same for both the social security administration staff and the possible victims or witnesses of the SSDI abuse.
There you have it—all the info on the social security and SSDI fraud statistics, as well as ways of abusing the system. If you suspect fraudulent activities concerning your social security insurance, the SSA has call centers and a great website that’s easy to navigate and file a complaint.
Research in OECD countries provided great insight into why people commit social security fraud. It found out that countries with a higher risk of fraud had more complex eligibility requirements. Moreover, a big reason people choose to commit fraudulent activities is their eligibility changing over time.
People Also Ask
What percentage of Social Security goes to disability?
The Social Security Payroll tax finances the disability benefits. That means most of the taxes collected from the workers are used for benefits to the current recipients of the social security disability insurance. The SSDI fund makes up around 4% of the federal budget. Its revenues, coupled up with the old-age and survivors insurance, to over one trillion.
How many people are on disability benefits?
As we mentioned, over 8 million people receive disabled worker benefits at the moment. Over 80% of the total number of people receiving these benefits are disabled workers. In addition, Social Security has an option for family members of disabled persons to receive payments. Currently, over 100,000 widowers and 1 million children of disabled people receive benefits from Social Security Disabled Insurance.
What percentage of welfare recipients are frauds?
Studies have shown that welfare fraud is much less common than most people believe. We already mentioned social security disability abuse statistics on improper welfare payments. They make up almost 16% of all federal welfare payments. But, improper payments do not always result from fraudulent activities. On average, developed countries have a 2% to 5% rate of fraud and error in their social security programs. States with a higher risk of fraud and error have rates between 5% and 10%.
Does Social Security call you for fraud?
In most cases, if there is a problem with your social security number or insurance in general, you will get a letter from the Social Security Administration. Likely, you won’t get a call from Social Security unless you previously talked to them. Moreover, Social Security will never threaten you or ask for any kind of payment and personal information.
What is the penalty for Social Security disability fraud?
In case you’re charged with stealing Social Security data or any kind of Social Security disability fraud, you can spend up to five years in prison. In addition, fines can go up to $250,000 depending on the severity of the case. Besides criminal charges, you might also get a civil penalty. Fines for civil cases are pretty hefty and may even result in the suspension of the culprit’s professional license.
How long does it take to investigate Social Security fraud?
According to our Social Security abuse statistics, the United States has a whole investigation program with 49 units working to prevent and detect fraud. Upon receiving a fraud report, the authorities try to act within 45 days. Usually, the whole investigation process does not take more than 180 days. When you submit a report, try to give as much information as you can. The main facts you should incorporate in your report should be description, time, and the exact way the fraud was committed.