Judgment Day for Former Fresno Pastor in SSDI Benefits Theft Case

Q: What are the penalties for failing to report income while collecting Social Security disability benefits?

When a person is or becomes disabled and is unable to work, they may be entitled to receive Social Security Disability Insurance benefits (“SSDI”) and/ or Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”). Both programs differ in their requirements for qualification, but are similar in that they require the recipient to qualify under the government’s definition of “disabled”.

To qualify for SSDI benefits the definition of disabled is  “the inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months”. SSDI benefits are available to those younger than 65 and are work-based rather than need-based– which means the applicant must satisfy the work credits requirement and must’ve worked a certain amount of hours over a certain period of years and must have contributed to the Social Security system.

Basically, while you don’t have to be bedridden, those who qualify for SSDI must be unable to work due to a severe physical, psychological, or a combination of, impairments.

A former Fresno pastor faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250 fine after he pleaded guilty to “theft of government property”. He reportedly admitted in federal court to stealing over 100,000 in Social Security disability insurance benefits. The benefits were paid while the pastor was simultaneously earning a salary and living rent-free courtesy of Mount Pleasant Missionary Baptist Church– unbeknownst to the government.

If you are applying to receive SSDI benefits, are appealing a denial of an application for SSDI benefits, or have questions regarding potentially returning to work after having been awarded benefits without jeopardizing your benefits or getting into legal hot water, the Social Security disability attorneys at Peña & Bromberg can help you navigate the complicated process. Call us today for a free consultation at 559-439-9700. From our offices in Fresno, we serve clients throughout Central Valley California, including San Francisco Bay, Oakland, Bakersfield, Madera, Stockton, Sacramento and Modesto as well as nationwide.

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