Those thinking about applying for Social Security disability may have noted the widespread media attention on fraud. In fact, more than 100 former New York City police officers and firefighters admit committing SSD fraud. According to The Chicago Tribune, the case pointed to a potentially bigger problem of SSD fraud across the country, but people considering applying for benefits shouldn’t be dismayed.
Congressional blog The Hill noted that Social Security fraud is actually rare and not widespread, and the Social Security Administration (SSA) takes special care to thoroughly investigate any reports of fraud and abuse in the system. The SSA has even gone as far as to enact changes in the system to reduce the disparity of rulings among SSA judges. The New York City disability fraud case is an uncommon occurrence in the system. However, those seeking Social Security disability benefits should remain informed about the case and how the SSA defines Social Security disability fraud.
How the SSA Defines Social Security Disability Fraud, Waste or Abuse
Numerous dishonest acts may count as fraud, waste or abuse of Social Security disability benefits. During an investigation, the SSA may consider any misrepresentation or concealment of facts to be fraud. This includes false statements on SSD applications, not disclosing all facts and reporting information the person knows is untrue. The SSA asks claimants to provide as much information as possible to the best of their knowledge. However, many severely unwell or incapacitated applicants can ask someone else to represent them. The SSA will appoint a friend, relative or another individual to act as a representative. As a result, any misuse of benefits also counts as fraud.
These issues show why we recommend applicants always use an experienced SSD attorney to file their claims. Not only can this attorney ensure all information is correct and presented but the attorney can help the applicant gain eligibility.
The New York City SSD Abuse Scandal
One recent case charged 106 former New York cops and firefighters with Social Security disability fraud. The New York Times reported the accused persons feigned anxiety and made it seem as if they were mentally scared to receive Social Security disability benefits. However, investigators caught the officers via social media posts that showed a different picture. According to The New York Times, online photos, phone calls, and testimony from undercover officers found an elaborate scheme, organized by four of the charged individuals, to commit Social Security disability fraud.
“It’s a particularly cynical part of the charged scheme that approximately half the defendants falsely claimed that their psychiatric disabilities were caused by the 9/11 attacks,” Cyrus Vance Jr., the Manhattan district attorney, stated.
You May Qualify for Legal Assistance
This is why having an attorney on your side is important. Providing accurate information — even if it’s just to the best of your knowledge — is essential to get SSD benefits. Luckily, attorneys can help you ensure this information is always correct and complete.
While these cases are rare, it’s important applicants understand what may count as fraud. This underscores the importance of working with an attorney. Having an attorney file your paperwork makes you nearly 3x more likely to win benefits. In addition, most people who file on their own without help usually don’t get benefits. Those who do must go through multiple court appeals and wait years for their first disability payments.
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Megan Kelly is a former blogger and copywriter for LeadingResponse.