Previously on this blog we discussed the history of the Social Security disability system and how, over the last 40 years or so, the number of individuals receiving SSD benefits has risen from about 1.8 million to more than 10 million. With the increase in governmental spending for the program, the Social Security Administration and the administrative law judges it hires to adjudicate claims have sought to crack down on those they believe are undeserving of benefits.
For 100s of individuals in coal country, this means being accused of fraud. Recently, the Social Security Administration ceased benefits to hundreds who were represented by a local attorney who they say fraudulently obtained benefits on his clients’ behalf. The investigation claims the attorney payed medical professionals and even a judge to essentially rubber stamp initial clams with bogus medical documentation. Then, when his disabled clients were up for reconsideration of their claims they were deemed able to work and their benefits were halted.
These individuals can, of course, attempt to show that they are still disabled, but their former attorney destroyed much of their medical evidence, so they are left to recall the names of all the medical professionals they have seen, some of which were seen more than 10 years ago. For many, this is impossible. Yet, without their disability checks, they are left without the financial resources they need to get by. Some have even turned to pawning their most precious possessions just to keep their utilities on for a little while longer.
Those who have been accused of SSD fraud can find themselves shocked and frightened for the future of their benefits. This is why disabled individuals need to carefully prepare their initial claims and thoroughly evidence their disability for reconsideration purposes. A qualified attorney can help with this process, but as this story shows, choosing the right attorney can be critical. Therefore, before choosing a legal professional to work with, disabled individuals should do their homework.
Source: Columbia Daily Tribune, “Tangled in fraud probe, 100s face loss of disability checks,” Claire Galofarao, Jan. 15, 2017