Many opponents, including recent presidential hopefuls for the GOP nomination, like to claim that most claimants are gaming the system and are not really disabled. Senator Rand Paul was one of the biggest proponents of this theory. He basically accused everyone of the 11 million disabled Americans with malingering and pretending to be sicker they actually were to get benefits because they didn’t want to work. We know that his could not be farther from the truth.
However, this is not to say that fraud of the system never occurs, but rather that any actual fraud incidents make up a very small fraction of the total number of claimants paid each year. When someone does allegedly commit the fraud, the authorities crack down very hard on the defendant not only in hopes of punishing that person, but in deterring others from trying to do the same or similar thing in terms of benefits fraud.
According to a recent news article from Watchdog.org, a woman was caught allegedly trying to steal around $120,000 from the system of government benefits program including Social Security Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits plan designed to assist older Americans with disabilities or who are blind and children who have a disability and live in a low-income household. In addition to the SSI fraud alleged, the Massachusetts woman is also alleged to have defrauded the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or what people used to be called food stamps program administered by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Among the various claims of fraud, the woman is alleged to have lied on the application about the fact she lives with her husband by claiming she did not. This was done so his income would not be considered as part of her household income that presumably would have made her ineligible to receive benefits. The reason it was so easy for the government to figure out she had allegedly lied was because she filled out an application for a government housing loan so she could purchase a new home. In this application she listed her husband a member of the household and included his income on the financial worksheet. She then purchased the new home and listed the new house as her permanent address when she renewed her driver’s license.
When the government does an audit, as they do from time to time, they figured out that she had allegedly listed conflicting information on her various applications, and this was the basis for them charging her with benefits fraud. Under the law, the government can often attempt to recover the actual amount of loss and additional amount if fraud is established. It was also alleged that she used some of the benefits money at New England casino. It should be noted that she has not been found guilty of any crime in connection with this alleged fraud and is presumed innocent unless and until she is found guilty in a court of law.
Again, as our Boston disability benefits lawyers have seen countless times, the vast majority of disability claimants are genuinely disabled and would much rather be working than living with a disability.
If you are seeking Social Security Disability Insurance benefits in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at 1-888-367-2900.
The House Always Wins, January 5, 2016, Watchdog.Org, By Larry Benson
More Blog Entries:
Hanson v. Colvin: A Critical Look by a Court of Appeals on a Denial of Benefits, August 14, 2014, Boston Disability Lawyers Blog.