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PROHIBITION OF MISUSE OF SYMBOLS, EMBLEMS, OR NAMES IN REFERENCE TO SOCIAL SECURITY OR MEDICARE

Sec1140[42 U.S.C. 1320b–10] (a)(1) No person may use, in connection with any item constituting an advertisement, solicitation, circular, book, pamphlet, or other communication, or a play, motion picture, broadcast, telecast, or other production, alone or with other words, letters, symbols, or emblems—

(A) the words “Social Security”, “Social Security Account”, “Social Security System”, “Social Security Administration”, “Medicare”, “Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services”, “Department of Health and Human Services”, “Health and Human Services”, “Supplemental Security Income Program”, or “Medicaid”, the letters “SSA”, “CMS”, “DHHS”, “HHS”, or “SSI”, or any other combination or variation of such words or letters, or

(B) a symbol or emblem of the Social Security Administration, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or Department of Health and Human Services (including the design of, or a reasonable facsimile of the design of, the social security card issued pursuant to section 205(c)(2)(F), or the Medicare card the check used for payment of benefits under title II, or envelopes or other stationery used by the Social Security Administration, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or Department of Health and Human Services) or any other combination or variation of such symbols or emblems,

in a manner which such person knows or should know would convey, or in a manner which reasonably could be interpreted or construed as conveying, the false impression that such item is approved, endorsed, or authorized by the Social Security Administration, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or the Department of Health and Human Services or that such person has some connection with, or authorization from, the Social Security Administration, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or the Department of Health and Human Services. The preceding provisions of this subsection shall not apply with respect to the use by any agency or instrumentality of a State or political subdivision of a State of any words or letters which identify an agency or instrumentality of such State or of a political subdivision of such State or the use by any such agency or instrumentality of any symbol or emblem of an agency or instrumentality of such State or a political subdivision of such State.

(2)(A) No person may, for a fee, reproduce, reprint, or distribute any item consisting of a form, application, or other publication of the Social Security Administration unless such person has obtained specific, written authorization for such activity in accordance with regulations which the Commissioner of Social Security shall prescribe.

(B) No person may, for a fee, reproduce, reprint, or distribute any item consisting of a form, application, or other publication of the Department of Health and Human Services unless such person has obtained specific, written authorization for such activity in accordance with regulations which the Secretary shall prescribe.

(3) Any determination of whether the use of one or more words, letters, symbols, or emblems (or any combination or variation thereof) in connection with an item described in paragraph (1) or the reproduction, reprinting, or distribution of an item described in paragraph (2) is a violation of this subsection shall be made without regard to any inclusion in such item (or any so reproduced, reprinted, or distributed copy thereof) of a disclaimer of affiliation with the United States Government or any particular agency or instrumentality thereof.

(4)(A) No person shall offer, for a fee, to assist an individual to obtain a product or service that the person knows or should know is provided free of charge by the Social Security Administration unless, at the time the offer is made, the person provides to the individual to whom the offer is tendered a notice that—

(i) explains that the product or service is available free of charge from the Social Security Administration, and

(ii) complies with standards prescribed by the Commissioner of Social Security respecting the content of such notice and its placement, visibility, and legibility.

(B) Subparagraph (A) shall not apply to any offer—

(i) to serve as a claimant representative in connection with a claim arising under subchapter II of this chapter, subchapter VIII of this chapter, or subchapter XVI of this chapter; or

(ii) to prepare, or assist in the preparation of, an individual’s plan for achieving self-support under subchapter XVI of this chapter.

(b) The Commissioner or the Secretary (as applicable) may, pursuant to regulations, impose a civil money penalty not to exceed—

(1) except as provided in paragraph (2), $5,000, or

(2) in the case of a violation consisting of a broadcast or telecast, $25,000,

against any person for each violation by such person of subsection (a). In the case of any items referred to in subsection (a)(1) consisting of pieces of mail, each such piece of mail which contains one or more words, letters, symbols, or emblems in violation of subsection (a) shall represent a separate violation. In the case of any item referred to in subsection (a)(2), the reproduction, reprinting, or distribution of such item shall be treated as a separate violation with respect to each copy thereof so reproduced, reprinted, or distributed.

(c)(1) The provisions of section 1128A (other than subsections (a), (b), (f), (h), and (i) and the first sentence of subsection (c)) shall apply to civil money penalties under subsection (b) in the same manner as such provisions apply to a penalty or proceeding under section 1128A(a).

(2) Penalties imposed against a person under subsection (b) may be compromised by the Commissioner or the Secretary (as applicable) and may be recovered in a civil action in the name of the United States brought in the district court of the United States for the district in which the violation occurred or where the person resides, has its principal office, or may be found, as determined by the Commissioner or the Secretary (as applicable). Amounts recovered under this section shall be paid to the Secretary and shall be deposited as miscellaneous receipts of the Treasury of the United States, except that (A) to the extent that such amounts are recovered under this section as penalties imposed for misuse of words, letters, symbols, or emblems relating to the Social Security Administration, such amounts shall be deposited into the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance Trust Fund, and (B) to the extent that such amounts are recovered under this section as penalties imposed for misuse of words, letters, symbols, or emblems relating to the Department of Health and Human Services, such amounts shall be deposited into the Federal Hospital Insurance Trust Fund or the Federal Supplementary Medical Insurance Trust Fund, as appropriate. The amount of such penalty when finally determined, or the amount agreed upon in compromise, may be deducted from any sum then or later owing by the United States to the person against whom the penalty has been imposed.

(d) The preceding provisions of this section may be enforced through the Office of the Inspector General of the Social Security Administration or the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services (as appropriate).