Skip to main content
Press Release

Smyrna, Tennessee Resident Guilty Of Supplemental Security Income Fraud

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Kentucky

Claimed she lived alone in Water Valley, Kentucky to receive benefits

PADUCAH, Ky. – A Smyrna, Tennessee woman pleaded guilty in United States District Court last week before Senior U.S. District Judge Thomas B. Russell for lying about where she lived in order to receive Supplemental Security Income, announced United States Attorney John E. Kuhn, Jr.  Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a Federal income supplement program funded by general tax revenues (not Social Security taxes) that is designed to provide cash to aged, blind, and disabled people, who have little or no income, in order to meet basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter.

According to the plea agreement, Mary Jane Higgins, 64, applied for and was denied SSI benefits in March of 2001 due to her co-habitation with her husband in Smyrna, Tennessee and her husband’s income being too high for qualification of benefits.  Higgins then re-applied for SSI benefits in July of 2001 and claimed that she had moved from Smyrna, Tennessee to Water Valley, Kentucky.  The defendant claimed that by living in Water Valley, she no longer lived with her husband and no longer enjoyed the benefits of his income, which earlier had precluded her eligibility for SSI benefits.  The defendant’s reapplication was approved and defendant received SSI payments from July of 2001 through July of 2014.

Furthermore, on April 5, 2010, April 6, 2011, and May 7, 2013, Higgins completed interviews for redetermining her eligibility for SSI payments. On all three occasions, Higgins claimed to live alone in Water Valley, when, in fact, she was actually living with her husband in Smyrna.  During the time periods discussed in the interviews, her husband’s income would have continued to prevent her eligibility for SSI benefits. 

On July 24, 2014, Higgins came to the Social Security Administration Office in Mayfield, Kentucky, for a pre-scheduled interview with SSA personnel regarding her SSI benefits.  Higgins claimed that she was still separated from her husband and living in Water Valley.  The defendant also claimed that her husband had dementia and that she hadn’t seen her husband in several months.  However, her husband had actually driven her to the interview that day and was outside in the parking lot sitting in their car during the interview when Higgins was making these false statements.

Higgins has agreed to pay $120,850.88 of restitution to the United States Commissioner of Social Security and the Kentucky Department of Medicaid Services.  Sentencing is scheduled before Senior Judge Russell on June 14, 2016 in Paducah.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Nute A. Bonner and was investigated by the Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General.

Updated February 24, 2016

Financial Fraud