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Woman Arrested After Stealing $18K From SSI Program
Updated May 1, 2015 2:49 PM | Filed under: Crime
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(BEDFORD) - A Bedford woman is facing felony charges after she allegedly stole nearly $18,000 from the Supplemental Security Income Benefit Program.

53-year-old Christenia Pence of Bedford was receiving money from SSI for her son, who has Down Syndrome.

According to a probable cause affidavit, Pence applied for SSI in 2001, but she failed to report that she had returned to work at General Motors in 2012 and was earning an income.

Pence received benefits for her son from December 2012 to February 2015 totaling $17,978.21 that her son was not entitled to because Pence was working at GM.

According to court records Pence earned $4,181.69 in 2012; $52,038.97 in 2013 and $72,582.21 in 2014.

The SSI program is designed to provide a floor of income for the aged, blind or disabled who have little or no income and resources ... The amount of the SSI check depends on how much other income an individual receives, the living arrangements (husband and their income), and other circumstances that affect an individual's financial needs, the court papers read. "SSI benefits are not the same as Social Security benefits, even though the program is run by the SSA. The money for SSI benefits comes from the general funds (taxpayer) of the United States Treasury."

In March, Brett M. Yonkus, a special agent with the Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General Office of Investigations discovered Pence had returned to work and did not report her income, resulting in her son being overpaid. Official say Pence earned too much income for her to continue to be eligible for SSI benefits.

Pence told officials she thought a GM benefits director would report her earnings to the Bloomington SSI district office.

Pence told officials she was sorry and would repay the money. She told officials she became dependent on the SSI benefits and that she didn't think she could hold down a job if she lost the benefits. Pence told officials she used $500 of the benefits to pay the rent and the rest of the benefits and the money she earned covered her household bills.



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