As House Focuses on Alleged Scheme, Attention on Disability Claims Process Wavers

Law Firm Newswire



Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) March 28, 2014 – In recent weeks, New York social security fraud allegations have overshadowed the struggles of legitimate disability claimants.

On January 14, the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee turned its attention to allegations that a group of retired firefighters, police officers and other individuals in New York City fraudulently secured almost $400 million in Social Security disability benefits.

One hundred and six people, almost all of whom are retired city police officers and firefighters, have been accused of feigning disability. The accused participants were allegedly coached on methods to fake their conditions — including how to flunk memory tests, stage panic attacks and lie about an inability to leave home or find a job. If a first responder worked during the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, they were also taught to manipulate psychiatric exams to appear fearful of airplanes and of entering skyscrapers.

The Manhattan district attorney’s office announced charges against the group at a news conference on January 7.

The DA was unsparingly critical of the accused, many of whom had posted pictures of themselves on Facebook flying helicopters, riding motorcycles, driving water scooters and participating in other intensive outdoor activities. “The brazenness is shocking,” said Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr.

Fortunately, fraud against the Social Security Disability program is a relatively isolated phenomenon. The alleged New York scheme required methodical, intensive manipulation of the system. Indeed, the current system tends to err in the other direction — toward unmerited denial. As a result, the typical claims process for honest disability benefit applicants remains lengthy, difficult and often unrequited. Fewer than 40 percent of applicant claims are approved.

“Claimants must provide their medical records and work history as well as information on their education and age,” says David W. Magann, a Tampa attorney who specializes in Social Security disability law. “The Social Security Administration will try to ascertain whether applicants can perform the work they have done and, if not, whether their skills can be redirected to another field.”

The SSA requires applicants to clear several hurdles. These include a review by a disability examiner and a medical doctor. If the claim is denied, the applicant can request a reconsideration, which, if rejected, may be followed by a hearing.

“If the claims process bogs down in rejections and hearings before an administrative law judge, the value of legal representation becomes all the more apparent,” Magann adds. “And applicants always have a much better chance of benefits approval if they hire an attorney.”

Learn more at David W. Magann, P.A. Main Office: 156 West Robertson Street Brandon, FL 33511 Call: (813) 657-9175 Tampa Office: 18715 N Dale Mabry Hwy Lutz, FL 33548
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