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SSA’s Fraud Police

You answer a knock on your door, and find two strangers, one of whom is dressed in a police officer’s uniform. They inform you that you may be the victim of Identity Theft, as your ID was found in a den of thieves. Cause for alarm? Yes, but not for the reason you think. If you have applied for Social Security Disability benefits, you are likely the victim of a Fraud Investigation by the CDIU.

The Cooperative Disability Investigations Unit (CDIU) was jointly established by the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) in 1998, to prevent fraud. There are currently 28 CDIUs in 24 states, including Washington State. They accept referrals from SSA employees, Administrative Law Judges (ALJ), third parties, and even “anonymous sources.” (www.oig.ssa.gov) If these people want to talk with you, it is because someone suspects that you are trying to defraud the SSA.

The “identity theft ruse” is designed to get invited into your home and to get you chatting with the investigators. Ironically, CDIU agents are allowed to lie to you, in an attempt to prove that you are lying to SSA. They will also talk with your neighbors, friends and family, and often videotape your activities without your knowledge.

Reports generated by the CDIU often contain half-truths and inappropriate conclusions. For example: “W2 stated that Mr. Smith did not appear at all disabled to her.” Unless the anonymous Witness #2 is your doctor, her opinion is irrelevant – and yet your disability claim may be denied based on this CDIU report.

If you have a current claim for SSI or Social Security Disability benefits, and you suspect you have been the target of a CDIU investigation, notify your representative right away. If you are unrepresented, ask SSA for a copy of the CDIU report and all the videotape and interview transcripts. Be prepared to discuss the allegations in the CDIU report with the ALJ at your disability hearing. Depending upon the circumstances, you may also consider speaking with a criminal defense attorney, as these fraud investigations sometimes lead to prison.