Have you ever attended a parenting class? If so, I’m willing to bet the course left out the chapter on fraud. It’s not often that parents choose fraud over children, but when the situation arises, the justice system created some “best practices,” as we will call it to help guide the parent back to what really matters. According to a Billings Gazette article, one mother is facing a tough set of “best practices,” including jail time for her inability to use her government distributed benefits on her son.
Parenting is one of the hardest challenges that humans face – life can be tough. And, some parents are lured in by the temptation to commit fraud so they can make life just a little easier. A Colorado mother was accused of collecting Social Security benefits for her son, using them to fuel her drug habits and personal living expenses. The mother admitted her guilt while still saying that she used four months of the benefits to help her son and her parents who had taken custody of the child. (Oh right, the four month cap. As long as you act like a parent for at least four months, then you’re off the hook.)
Court records reveal the fraudulent mother had been married to the father of her child, who passed away in 2005. After his passing, the mother applied for Social Security disability benefits on behalf of her son with the Social Security Administration (SSA). (Okay, so far, no problem.) The SSA evaluated the request, rewarding the benefits to her son and made her the representative payee. (Again, no problem.) In February of 2012, the child’s grandparents filed a claim with the SSA, reporting they had been raising the child since 2005 and had not received any financial assistance from their daughter, cognizant of the fact she continued to collect the son’s Social Security disability payments. (Busted! Now, we have a problem.) The grandparents described the boy’s mother as a drug addict who had been in and out of jail since 2005. They even reported an argument between the mother and themselves, explaining she had threatened to take away their custody of her son when they asked about the benefits. The mother faces a maximum of five years in prison and a possible $250,000 fine, as well as $82,730 in restitution. She is being held in custody until her sentencing in September 2013.
I can see why they skipped this chapter in Parenting 101. This is a prime example of how an individual can take advantage of a government system that aims to distribute benefits to those really in need. It is unfortunate that the kid was on a different “receiving end of things” than his less than perfect mother.