March 21st, 2014|
March 21, 2014
For those who collect Social Security Disability, the benefits supplied through the program may be their only source of income. But security breaches of claimant data can result in Social Security Disability Fraud that could lead to a loss of benefits.
Recently, a Maryland company that oversees the benefits of 13,900 disabled Maryland residents has come forward about compromised benefit information that affects roughly 70 percent of its customers. According to an article from The Baltimore Sun, a hacker was able to enter Service Coordination Inc.’s computer system between Oct. 20-30 of last year. They were then able to gain access to information regarding individual disability cases that included:
- Medical Assistance numbers
- Medicaid Status
- Personal Demographics
Officials say the data breach could become especially complicated since many of the clients depend on third parties to handle their finances and business. Many other disability recipients rarely conduct checks of their accounts and deposits, which means they may not realize their information has been compromised until their benefits go missing.
Virginia Marcus, an executive director with the Maryland Disabilities Law Center, says the hack could also add to an already burning need for legal services for the state’s disabled.
The Social Security Disability Lawyers with Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin recognize the need for security regarding benefits and encourage anyone with questions regarding their payments to seek the counsel of a qualified attorney immediately.
January 20th, 2014|
January 20, 2014
Several weeks ago, hundreds of former New York police officers and firefighters were indicted on charges of Social Security Disability Fraud. Estimates show these individuals may have collected more than $400 million in improper Social Security Disability payments over the past 13 years, making the case one of the largest scams in the program’s history.
The case leaves many citizens wondering what can be done to prevent such incidents from occurring in the future. An administrative law judge who oversees Social Security Disability cases recently offered several suggestions on how to address the problems of fraud within the Social Security system in an article published by The New York Times.
The suggestions the judge is offering include:
- Create More Transparency– The indicted individuals were caught after posting pictures of themselves engaging in numerous activities a person who is unable to work should not be participating in. Yet, the law prohibits judges from examining social media during a case.
- Allow The Social Security Administration An Attorney– While those filing claims have a right to legal representation, the government does not have attorneys to defend their position in Social Security Disability claims that go to court.
- Change Leadership Strategies– The SSA is currently overseen by an acting commissioner. Hiring someone who has been involved in the system would drastically improve processes.
The Social Security Disability Lawyers with Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin are curious if the public believes these changes would be effective in preventing fraud.
January 8th, 2014|
January 8, 2014
Earlier this week, hundreds of current and former emergency workers in New York were indicted on charges of Social Security Disability Fraud.
Reports from the New York Times indicate that in the wake of the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center, dozens of firefighters and police officers were coached as to what to say and how to act in order to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits. They told investigators they had memory issues and were so emotionally and psychologically scarred from the event, they were left unable to work.
An investigation into some of the claims proved the men and women were not suffering as they had claimed and were leading normal lives while not working. The Social Security Disability Lawyers with Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin say the discoveries could have significant impacts on the way benefits are distributed, as well as how the Social Security Administration follows up on cases.
Those applying for benefits can expect to face a stringent burden of proving both a disabling condition and its effects on one’s ability to work. Current data states an estimated 60 percent of initial claims are denied due to reasons such as lack of evidence or records. Those receiving benefits can also expect to show continued disability following the charges.
September 18th, 2013|
September 18, 2013
The nation’s Social Security program, which offers benefits to those who have retired or have become disabled and are unable to work, is currently facing a serious funding shortage. This shortage could lead to the collapse of a system that millions of Americans depend on as a source of income. The Social Security Disability Lawyers with Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin explain that one of the leading causes of the funding shortage is fraudulent claims.
Whether made purposefully or unintentionally, individuals who filed claims for Social Security Disability Benefits while holding a job during a period from December of 2010 to January of this year took the system for more than $1.3 Billion. According to an article published in The Washington Post, the losses show a serious problem in the claims approval process.
In order to receive benefits, a claimant must prove their condition leaves them unable to perform their job duties and must also give evidence to show they have not received more than $1,000 per month for the past five months. However, once an individual has met this criteria, little is done to ensure the claimant continues to receive this amount of income.
Experts say the shortage of funds these fraudulent claims cause only makes it more difficult for those who legitimately cannot work to get the benefits they desperately need. That is why the law firm suggests anyone considering applying for Social Security Disability benefits discuss their case with an attorney.
August 26th, 2013|
August 26, 2013
Last week, a total of 75 people were arrested in connection to fraudulent claims for Social Security Disability Benefits being made in Puerto Rico. Experts say that these fraudulent claims only make the process more difficult for those with legitimate claims to get the assistance they need.
According to The Washington Times, the fraudulent claims would be made by a Social Security Administration (SSA) employee after the individual received a payment of up to $6,000. Then, for a cost of up to $500, a doctor would declare an individual unable to work due to a mental health condition.
These fraudulent claims can keep those who are most in need of help from getting the assistance they need in several ways. These claims take time away from processors focusing on legitimate claims, which has helped lead to the massive backlog of unprocessed applications that are still awaiting a decision. Also, fraudulent claims typically lead to lawmakers enacting stiffer regulations on how benefits should be dispersed, creating more red tape for those with legitimate claims to have to cut.
The Social Security Disability Lawyers with Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin recognize the complexities that can accompany filing a claim for benefits. That is why the firm suggests discussing your legal rights with an attorney if you are considering applying for benefits or have a claim that was denied in the past.
June 24th, 2013|
June 24, 2013
Earlier this year, the Social Security Administration (SSA) switched from cutting paper checks to recipients of Social Security Disability benefits to issuing direct deposits to beneficiary’s bank accounts. The move was made in an effort to provide the agency with a more streamlined and secure way to dispense payments.
However, reports indicate there have been a significant number of cases of Social Security Disability Fraud reported since the change was made. In fact, an article from the Patriot Ledger explains that estimates show as much as $28 million was stolen from beneficiaries between October 2011 and June of this year.
Those committing the fraud obtain a beneficiary’s private information, such as Social Security and bank account numbers. They then contact the SSA and have the account in which payments are deposited changed to their own.
This leaves many recipients wondering what they can do to protect themselves from being the victim of fraud. Experts say recipients should never give out personal information and should never send or wire money to a stranger. Furthermore, a recipient should contact their local SSA office if they receive a call from someone claiming to be from the agency and asking for a Social Security number.
The Social Security Disability Attorneys with Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin acknowledge most Social Security recipients depend of their benefit payments to make ends meet. The firm hopes these tips will help to protect those individuals from fraud.
March 15th, 2013|
March 14, 2013
It’s no secret the nation’s Social Security Disability system has seen a massive influx in the number of claims filed. The Social Security Administration (SSA) reports a 60 percent growth in the number of claims from 2003 to 2012.
Under the administration headed by former commissioner, Michael Astrue, the SSA attributed this increase to the nation’s economic downfall. According to the Washington Free Beacon, acting commissioner of the agency, Carolyn Colvin, is blaming the dramatic rise on an increase in the number of fraudulent claims filed.
Some common examples of fraud include individuals who receive benefits without first receiving a commercial driver’s license. The licensing process requires a rigorous physical examination that can often determine if a person is truly disabled or not. Another common method of defrauding the system is simply lying about the amount of income a person receives.
Experts point out a large majority of fraudulent cases occur because individuals receiving benefits have no incentive to get back to work. This is due to policies that do not allow partial disability to be received.
The Social Security Disability Attorneys with the law firm of Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin are aware the high number of fraudulent claims only makes it more difficult for those who are truly in need to get the benefits they deserve. The firm encourages anyone who is considering filing a claim to discuss their case with an attorney.
October 24th, 2011|
Last week brought disturbing news about the Philadelphia arrests of four people who were imprisoning four mentally disabled people in a basement crawl space in order to cash their Social Security Disability checks. Now that the news has settled in — and the abusers have been jailed and the disabled persons are being treated — some advocates for the disabled are saying they’re not surprised that this happened.
Clinical psychologist Nora Baladerian, who works with disabled crime victims in Los Angeles, told the Associated Press, “Anyone with a cognitive impairment is a walking target [for Social Security fraud]. It’s not just the money. It’s sexual abuse. It’s physical assault.”
Baladerian also said that police can find it difficult to communicate with the disabled, thus making it more challenging to pursue crimes involving disabled victims. But that’s no excuse, she says.
“It’s no more of a challenge than dealing with elder abuse or children, who have difficulty talking like adults,” Baladerian said. “And you’re a cop. You can go to Social Security and see who’s cashing that check.”
How might the Social Security Administration better protect its beneficiaries from fraud?
If you need help with your Social Security Disability benefits, contact the Social Security Disability lawyers at Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin.
October 19th, 2011|
In a news story that’s making waves around the world, a fourth person has been arrested for her connection to a scheme in which four mentally disabled adults were locked in a squalid basement in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, while their captors cashed their Social Security Disability checks.
On Wednesday authorities arrested a 32-year-old woman who is believed to be the daughter of the alleged ringleader, a 51-year-old convicted murder who was convicted in the starvation death of a man nearly 30 years ago.
The victims, weak and malnourished, were discovered by a landlord on Saturday after he heard dogs barking. The door to the basement was chained shut, but the landlord got in and, according to the Associated Press, he lifted a pile of blankets and found several pairs of eyes looking back at him. He also found a male chained to a boiler.
The victims include a 41-year-old North Carolina man, a 40-year-old Virginia man, a 29-year-old woman, and a 31-year-old man, both from Philadelphia.
On Tuesday police also took 10 young adults and juveniles (aged 2 – 19) into custody from the house and put them into protective custody. The 19-year-old was found malnourished and with signs of abuse. Authorities believe that many of the young people are related to the ringleader and her family members. They are doing DNA tests and obtaining birth certificates to determine if there’s any relation.
The Associated Press reports that the mentally disabled victims may have been imprisoned for years and that police missed several opportunities over the last few years to find these missing people.
How do you think these criminals got away with cashing these people’s Social Security Disability checks for so long?
If you need help with your Social Security Disability benefits, contact the Social Security Disability lawyers at Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin.
June 6th, 2011|
A Perham, Minnesota, man allegedly lied to the Social Security Administration to illegally collection Social Security Disability benefits, reports the Detroit Lakes Tribune.
A special agent discovered that the 54-year-old man, who initially filed for disability on June 15, 1995, in fact returned to work from August of 2005 to August of 2008—during which time he and another man made $254,150. On a work act form, the man claimed that he had not worked since filing for disability.
A representative from the company he worked for as an independent construction contractor said he’d never made mention of any disability.
The man collected $24,285 in Disability benefits during the three years that he worked as a contractor. He admits not reporting this work to the SSA.
He now faces two counts of felony theft. Each count holds the possibility of 10 years in prison or a $20,000 fine.
Were you aware that such substantial punishment was doled out for Social Security fraud?
If you need help with your Social Security benefits, contact the Social Security Disability lawyers at Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin.