Much has been made of social security disability fraud in the press lately.  With major news sources such as the Wall Street Journal uncovering it in Puerto Rico and …….   Disability Attorneys such as myself are caught in the middle as we attempt to get our clients onto the system that is widely regarded to be overburdened.  There is a very interesting analysis of the situation from a physician who is perplexed by disability attorneys who may try to game the private disability system and his patients that are legitimately disabled who can’t get onto social security disability.  Dr. Mokotoff tells the stories of patients who may qualify for lesser impairments such as fibromyalgia, PTSD, and back pain, but the younger claimants with heart ailments do not qualify even when its severe enough that they die before they ever qualify.  Its true that the Social Security disability attorney can help, but this is often after many layers and years of appeals.  Where the gaming of the system comes in is where private disability requires frequent recertification of the disability the SSDI system often does not.  This could be where much disability fraud comes in since anecdotally, I as a Utah disability attorney do not see many people who do not appear to be objectively disabled when they get onto SSDI or SSI.  However, over a period of time their condition(s) may improve and Social Security has said that they do not have the funding to do periodic reviews for disability fraud.
The biggest problem uncovered by the Government Accountability Office is that there has been about $1.29 billion that went to people that were “disabled” but were working.  Confusion can ensue occasionally as disabled recipients may be trying to return to work under the Social Security disability trial work programs that is designed to get temporarily disabled people back to work.  Also to put the problem in perspective the payment were only made improperly to less than 1% of the total people on disability.  Dr. Motokoff puts the blame on the loosening of standards of 1984 legislation that gave a more liberal definition as to what qualifies as a disability.  The negative press against disability recipients has been strong of late probably due to dwindling funds in the federal fund for the program that is expected to run out in a few years. One post cited a study that disability recipients are unmotivated to find work.  The author is clearly biased against the recipients especially those that are on SSI.  It reads of an attack to those that are on disability since they often don’t have a lot of education.  Senator Coburn is one who has been sharp in his attack on the disability program and his subcommittee has remarked that there is often a failure to reconcile conflicting evidence in disability cases.  It is an interesting read for anyone to see where certain members of Congress are in terms of their attack on the disability program as they attack a number of perceived issues including specific disability judges.