The headlines are everywhere: the SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) fund is set to run out in late 2016 if something isn’t done to replenish it. It’s not that most people don’t see the need for it, but with the fraud, waste and abuse that plagues the Social Security system, people don’t want it to be reauthorized without some reforms put into place to help curb the fraud, waste and abuse. According to THIS NBC News article, changes made in 1995 opened the door to get benefits for certain disorders. The number of “Musculoskeletal conditions and mental health disorders” claims has exploded. What happens when a backlog happens in a system where performance is judged by quantity instead of quality?
Corners are cut.
And what typically can be found in places where corners are cut?
Fraud, lies, greed, and theft.
When you first make a disability claim, you can expect that it will likely get denied. There’s no shortage of internet sites that tell you this and all about the process. A Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) is compiled with input from the Disability Determination Services (DDS) agency and information documented from your doctor. The goal for someone who really doesn’t want to work apparently is to get an RFC that says you aren’t even capable of doing “sedentary work”. What is that? It means you can’t lift more than 10 pounds at a time, mostly sit with occasionally walking and standing. The disability examiner determines, given your skills, age and abilities, if you can be taught another job. If you are making a claim for physical disabilities, it’s completed by a physician. If it’s for mental ones, a psychologist or psychiatrist will reference your mental symptoms that affect your ability to work. Site after site recommends you have an attorney to help you navigate through the denials you are likely to get. And when you do, here’s what they won’t tell you, but should: if you aren’t supposed to be working, then DON’T. Also, if you’re caught pretending, faking or malingering, you can go to prison.
Attorneys know, hear about, or learn which judges tend to do what. You can even find the claim approval statistics BY JUDGE for the Administrative Law Judges on the internet! HERE it is for Maryland. The danger comes when an attorney, more focused on winning at all costs for his/her client, helps the client to bend and fudge the facts instead of protecting the very system they may one-day need from abuse.
A report was released by the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, available by clicking HERE, that is sub-titled “How Rubber-Stamping Disability Judges Cost Hundreds of Billions of Taxpayer Dollars”. As a result of the rampant fraud and abuse of the SSA benefits system, investigations are on the rise. And when a person, determined to lie to get benefits, hires a lawyer who colludes with your lies, the clock starts ticking. See THIS story about the scheme by Judge David B. Daugherty and attorney Eric Conn (appropriate last name) to defraud the SSDI system by fast-tracking claims through the administrative hearing process for people who very likely didn’t deserve benefits at all. How do you get the medical data to support it? Easy! Use doctors recommended by your lawyer who “you could get them to do what you want”.
I found and watched the 60 Minutes story on the disability fraud, and you can too by clicking HERE. The Vice President of the Association of Administrative Law Judges, Marilyn Zahm, said “if the American public knew what was going on in our system, half would be outraged and the other half would apply for benefits.” I know which half I am, and I know a few people who have shamelessly and shamefully applied for benefits. Read the comments on the video site. Others apparently know of them too.