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Federal Social Security Fraud: 42 U.S. Code § 408

Mastery of the statutes and regulations is the most important part of social security law practice. One of the critical statutes is 42 U.S. Code § 408. The provision forms a very fundamental part of safeguarding the integrity of the Social Security system by identifying the criminal penalties for fraudulent activities.
What is 42 U.S. Code § 408?

42 U.S. Code § 408 is a federal law covering all sorts of fraudulent and abusive activities pertaining to SSNs and benefits. It provides for certain+/—specific actions as criminal offenses and articulates penalties for the same. The purpose of the legislature behind this enactment was to save the Social Security system from fraud and abusive practices so that the benefit may get distributed equitably and legally.

Key Provisions of 42 U.S. Code § 408

These are the essential, or important, parts of the law, which relate to preventing different types of fraud, as follows:

Misrepresentation of SSN:

It is illegal and punishable to provide, for purposes of obtaining an SSN, information that can be considered knowingly and willfully false. It also prohibits filing an application under a fictitious name or submitting false documents at the time of filing an application.

Fraudulent Use of SSN:

The crime of using another’s SSN by theft, fraud, or compulsion is very grave. This section mainly applies to cases of identity theft.

False Statements to Obtain Benefits:

One is not to make false statements or representations of facts for the purpose of fraudulently claiming any of the benefits under the Social Security program. The most common misrepresentations relate to income and employment or family relationships.

Failure to Disclose Information:

Accurate and full information is to be disclosed regarding one’s eligibility for benefits. Criminal charges can also be brought against one who does not inform the administration of changes that will reduce benefit entitlement, such as marriage, divorce, or death.

Fraud by Representatives:

 Even representatives, be they attorneys or any other representative that a claimant may hire, are not permitted to commit fraud on his or her behalf. In effect, they are bound by the same requirements for truthfulness and accuracy as the claimant.

Penalties for Violations of 42 USC 408

Violations of 42 U.S. Code § 408 are severely penalized, since social security fraud is considered a serious offense. The penalties include:


A convicted person may have to face heavy fines. The level of fines varies based on the severity and nature of fraud.


There are strong chances of imprisonment in the case of a convicted person. For example, fraudulent actions about the distribution of false statements to claim benefits can result in a maximum sentence of five years.


In addition to fines and imprisonment, defendants may also be required to return the fraudulently obtained amount.

Additional Legal Consequences:

Convictions may further lead to other legal effects such as denial of benefits, civil lawsuits, and Permanent or long-term record of criminal conviction.

Role of Defense Council

Given the complexities of 42 U.S. Code § 408, any person charged with a violation of this statute will want an experienced federal social security fraud attorney to represent them. In this regard, a social security attorney will be a great help in the following ways:

Advisement of Legal Rights and Options: If one is charged, it is very important to understand what the charges are and what defenses might be available. An attorney can explain all that to a person and advise them on how to proceed.

Defense of Fraud Charges: A person accused of fraud should have a proper defense of his case. The attorney will gather the required evidence, interview witnesses, and provide a strong case in court.

Negotiation of Penalties: Prosecutors can also be negotiated with concerning reducing charges or penalties in some cases. It is quite often the case that an experienced attorney may attract better results for their clients.


42 U.S. Code § 408 is an extremely important measure to prevent social security fraud and provide a proper channelization of benefits through the system. Accordingly, knowledge of this statute is a must for one and all—from claimants to legal professionals. For the accused, capable legal defense becomes of utmost importance concerning survival of the legal hassles and getting a fair deal.

Please call Manuelian Law Firm at (213)248-6784 for a consultation or further information. Our well-experienced attorneys will help you understand your rights and provide the legal support you need.


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