Few are more staunchly against Social Security Disability Insurance fraud than those who need it the most.
Our Boston SSDI lawyers know the kind of fight it takes to secure benefits for those who are legitimately sick and disabled – and it’s by no means an easy one.
Unfortunately, scandals like the one recently out of Puerto Rico not only make it seem as if it is easy, they prompt calls for reform to the entire system that could make it even more difficult for those who already face an uphill struggle.
According to recent media reports, the fraud ring involved a former Social Security employee charging some $6,000 to write bogus applications for benefits. Then, doctors charged upwards of $500 a piece to pen phony diagnoses indicating that patients had psychiatric impairments that rendered them unable to work.
Currently, some 8.8 billion people are beneficiaries of the SSDI program. Those with psychiatric and mental impairments make up a relatively smaller percent of those collecting benefits. While psychiatric and mental impairment are no less debilitating than those who have obvious physical impairments, they are tougher to prove.
Of course, that makes situations like this all the more egregious because now, such claims will likely undergo even greater scrutiny.
The program as a whole has been greatly derided by a number of politicians and media personnel for its recent uptick in claims. This is despite the fact that the rising number of claims had been anticipated for years, given the aging of the baby boomers and the fact that the chances for disability increase with age.
Many of these individuals will eventually age out into the Social Security Retirement system. A good percentage may only collect disability payments for a few years before this happens.
While many media outlets are focusing on the fact that this fraud somehow fell through the cracks, at least for a short period of time, officials with the SSA say that this case shows how certain checks and balances are indeed working. In fact, it was employees with the disability determination service in Puerto Rico who identified those doctors who were allegedly involved. That information was then reported to SSA supervisors, who then requested a full-on investigation by the agency’s inspector general.
A total of three doctors and one former SSA employee were arrested and indicted, along with 71 claimants.
Those who had their disability claims approved received an initial lump-sum payment to be retroactive to the initial date of the claim and then were paid disability checks on a monthly basis. The former SSA employee allegedly took a 25 percent cut of that lump sum payment.
The revelation has prompted a review of some 6,600 disability claims submitted with the aid of these three physicians. Any medical evaluation given to the agency by these doctors will have to be scrapped and the examinations done all over again.
Subsequent to the arrests, officials with the SSA have collected nearly $4 million in forfeitures from the former official and the three doctors.
If you are considering filing for SSDI in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at 1-888-367-2900.
Puerto Rico fraud ring sets off call for Social Security disability reform, Aug. 21, 2013, By Stephen Dinan, The Washington Times
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Shoulder Injuries and Boston SSDI Claims: Part II, Aug. 25, 2013, Boston Social Security Disability Lawyer Blog