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Recent Increase in Identify Thefts and How this Can Affect Your Social Security Benefits
In this age of high speed internet, accessibility to online records and the multitude of web-friendly services like people searches and online shopping, identify theft is becoming more and more prevalent. It's simple; there is more information readily available about you and it's becoming easier to access. Anyone with basic computer skills can perform an internet search and find out a substantial amount of background information on you. Identity theft can obviously result in improper use of your credit and theft of funds, but it can also become a huge obstacle in your case for Social Security Disability benefits.
Recently a computer and file server were stolen from the California health insurance company Medical Excess. The stolen property held the names, social security numbers, birth dates and medical/disability information of over 2,000 individuals. These people became immediately at risk for identity theft. To add to the mess, the affected individuals were not even informed by Medical Excess of what had happened for three months after the incident occurred.
Thieves also recently stole information containing names, social security numbers, birth dates and disability ratings on 26.5 million veterans. Since then, veterans groups have initiated lawsuits asking the VA to explain how this happened and demanding damages. Their complaint is that the VA failed to create safeguards, despite notifications since 2001 that their controls over data were weak.
The reality is that no one is entirely safe from identity theft, and if you are applying for Social Security benefits, your social security number and name are vital parts of the determination process. In order to qualify for disability benefits, a person must not have engaged in substantial work since their alleged disability began. If you become a victim of identity theft and your social security number is used, any earnings made using your number will show up on the Social Security Administration records as your earnings. Therefore, your claim for benefits would be denied based on the fact that you were supposedly still working. Additionally, for claimants who apply for Supplemental Social Security, where qualification is dependent on a low-income status, any earnings under your name that put you over the minimum income limits would disqualify your claim.
Some Social Security attorneys have recently been faced with the complications of clients' identity theft issues. If you have been a victim of identity theft and you are applying for Social Security benefits, please be aware of the earnings record that the Social Security Administration compiles on your case. Also, make sure to tell your attorney in the beginning of the process that you are an identity theft victim, so that he or she can take appropriate steps in ensuring that your case for benefits is not adversely affected, and your records are accurate.
Always consult with an experienced social security disability professional when you need help getting your disability benefits.
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