Hundreds of New Puerto Rico Disability Claims Raise Fraud Questions

After 300 employees were laid off from a Puerto Rico pharmaceutical plant, 290 of them applied for Social Security Disability and all cited the care of the same doctor, raising questions of fraud, reports The Wall Street Journal.

Social Security Administration Inspector General Patrick O’Carroll announced an investigation into the claims at an August 30 disability examiners conference.

This case is especially suspicious because the doctor referenced on the claims lives far away from the plant where the employees once worked.

The WSJ calls the investigation “part of the agency’s stepped-up efforts to tackle abuses in the financially struggling program.” The newspaper previously called out the agency for its leniency in awarding benefits to people in the U.S. Commonwealth. In 2010, benefits were awarded in a reported 63.4% of cases decided by judges in Puerto Rico.

Jonathan Lasher, an assistant inspector general at the agency, said, “The office of the inspector general is continuing to pursue any number of fraud allegations in Puerto Rico related to the Social Security disability program.”

In addition, Puerto Rico Secretary of Health Lorenzo Gonzalez said, “We strongly support the effort to investigate this case and any incident of abuse, and will partner with federal officials to eliminate fraud in not only the disability program, but in other federal health programs like Medicare and Medicaid. As with any other federal investigation involving fraud with a federal program, if a physician is found to be performing unlawfully, we will move swiftly at the local level through the state licensing board to take whatever action is needed to halt the abuse.”

Read more.

Do you think the Social Security Administration does enough to investigate potential disability fraud cases?

If you need help with your Social Security Disability benefits, contact the Social Security Disability lawyers at Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin.

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