CONCORD, N.H. – Ruth Chandler a/k/a Ruth Patterson, 55, of Charlestown, pleaded guilty in federal court on Friday to one count of Social Security Fraud and two counts of Making False Statements, announced Acting United States Attorney John J. Farley.
According to court documents and statements made in court, Chandler began receiving Social Security disability benefits as of April 2008. She also received Medicaid benefits and Food Stamps, also known as SNAP benefits, beginning in September 2008. Eligibility for each of these benefits programs is based, in part, on the applicant having limited income and resources. In assessing a married individual’s eligibility for Social Security disability benefits, Medicaid, and Food Stamps, the income of the applicant’s spouse is considered.
Chandler married in May 2008, but she failed to disclose her marriage to Social Security as required. Instead, she reported that she was divorced and not currently married. When Social Security officials discovered a bank account held jointly by Chandler (in her married name of Patterson) and her husband in September 2014 as part of an eligibility redetermination, Chandler falsely stated that the bank listed her name incorrectly on the account. Similarly, in connection with her claims for Medicaid and Food Stamps, Chandler did not inform the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services that she was married, but rather, stated that she lived with her “friend,” to whom she paid rent and contributed to the utility expenses. She submitted statements to the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services outlining the payments she made to her “friend,” on which she forged her husband’s signature. Chandler’s husband’s income would have rendered her ineligible to receive any Supplemental Security Income benefits, Medicaid, and Food Stamps in most months, and severely reduced her benefits in other months. As a result of concealing her marriage from the Social Security Administration and from the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, the government estimates that Chandler fraudulently received approximately $51,000 in disability benefits, $40,753.01 in Medicaid, and $11,001 in Food Stamps.
Chandler is scheduled to be sentenced on July 25, 2017.