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Grandmother commits SSD fraud to care for grandchildren

When a grandmother of five began to commit Social Security fraud over 20 years ago, she did so in order to keep her five grandchildren in her home and out of the foster care system. Now she has pleaded guilty to fraud and may be sentenced to a year in prison, which would have the exact result she worked to avoid: sending her grandchildren to foster care.

The 67-year-old widow has full custody of her five grandchildren, four of whom are from a daughter who is battling drug addiction and one who is from a mentally ill son currently serving time behind bars for armed robbery and substance abuse. Because of her son's mental illness, he had been receiving Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits for several years. When he was convicted in 1990, the grandmother did not inform the Social Security Administration (SSA) that he was serving time in jail, but continued to receive his SSD benefits.

In 1996, the grandmother began to actively commit fraud, reporting on SSA paperwork that her son still lived with her. And in 2002, she allegedly hired someone to pretend to be her son and to undergo medical exams necessary for continued receipt of SSD benefits.

The grandmother was recently arrested and charged with fraudulently receiving $120,000 in SSD benefits over 20 years, which amounts to an extra $6,000 per year. When added to the grandmother's income of $8,000 to $10,000 a year, which she earns from her job as a nursing aide, the family of six was still only taking in approximately $14,000 to $16,000 a year, far below the poverty line.

Because she pleaded guilty and admitted to her crime, the grandmother hopes to receive a lenient sentence of home confinement. She will be sentenced later this week, at which time she may be sent to prison for up to 16 months.

Source: AOL News, "Grandmother Who Stole to Feed Five Grandkids Faces Prison", Lauren Frayer, 29 March 2011

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