For those who qualify, Social Security disability benefits can be life-changing. They give disabled individuals the ability to pay their bills and live comfortably when they are physically or mentally unable to work. Unfortunately, for all of the deserving people who apply for SSDI benefits, there are always a few others who are trying to cheat the system. An example of this hit close to home recently when a Gary, Indiana, woman was accused of stealing more than $32,000 from the Social Security Administration (SSA).
Lakita Lee, 35, was sentenced to 16 months of probation—10 of which will be home detention—in exchange for pleading guilty; U.S. District Judge Joseph Van Bokkelen also ruled that Lee must pay a $1,000 fine, in addition to restitution of the $32,608 she stole.
How did Lee manage to steal so much money from the SSA? Back in 2008, she became a representative for a senior citizen neighbor, Marva Davis, who was receiving Social Security disability checks. Davis died in December of that year, but Lee didn't report that to the SSA. She kept collecting checks until March 2012. Lee used the money for herself, including paying for her daily marijuana purchases. In 2011 and 2012 she filed for unemployment benefits in Indiana and failed to report the Social Security income, which means she stole from the state as well.
In March 2012, Lee did not fill out forms from the SSA in order to continue receiving benefits, so she voluntarily gave them up.