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Identity theft and your SSD benefits

We all know how difficult it can be to obtain SSDI benefits. The application is complex and for many people struggling with difficult medical conditions, simply dealing with their basic daily needs can be overwhelming. Adding to that the complex application process for SSD benefits and the demands of having to undergo appeals or hearings can really increase the stress and worry.

When you finally obtain benefits, the feelings if relief can be tremendous. You have made it, and while for many the benefit payments are modest, they can make a truly significant difference for your financial sense of well-being and help you "make ends meet" when it comes to housing and food expenses.

So imagine the shock of having SSA inform you they are investigating your "outside" earnings and that they are demanding your previous years income tax filings. Such a calamity has befallen a woman who apparently was a victim of identity theft.

She received a notice of decision from SSA after a hearing that she had substantial gainful activity over a period of four years and that they were ending her benefits. She was scared, as her SSD benefits help pay for her home and other bills.

Ironically, the IRS had confirmed a few days earlier that her identity had been stolen in connection with her tax returns. However, because both the IRS and SSA are very large agencies, it is not uncommon that that information was not transmitted to SSA.

Her attorney is now working to reopen the case and have her benefits reinstated. She is concerned that she will be forced to reapply for benefits, which would only increase the stress in her life. This should not be necessary, as her medical condition has not changed and her benefits were terminated because of the identity theft making it appear she was earning income above the limits for the program.

Identity theft of tax refunds is a significant problem, and you may want to discuss the need to file a tax return with your attorney even if you have no taxable income, simply to help prevent this type of fraud.

Source: "Knoxville woman's disability check taken away following identity theft," Don Dare, January 13, 2016

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