Things happen. A few people might just be less lucky than others. Some may have got injured at work or while trying to protect something important. Perhaps, it was an out-of-control accident. Others are born with disabilities.
Fortunately, we have a disability system in place that has got you covered. Unfortunately, when the allure of “easy money” comes around, tricksters are never too far behind.
Disability fraud is a worldwide problem. There are millions of people receiving disability assistance from social security, insurance companies, and other institutions all around the world. Disability fraud can be very difficult to detect as well.
- The Truth About Disability Fraud
- Types Of Disability Fraud
- Myths About Disability Fraud
- Will Disability Fraud Ever Stop?
- The Bottom Line
The Truth About Disability Fraud
Disability benefits abuse refers to any tactic used to misuse information to qualify for undeserved benefits. In a disability fraud, scammers profit from taxpayers and live a comfortable life.
But why would a trickster think of these schemes? Because they are extremely hard to detect once they get approved.
Citizens pay taxes and want that money to be spent for useful purposes. The reality is of course that billions of dollars are chanelled where they should not be.
The disability fund is not one of these channels, however because of tricksters wanting to abuse the system, it is an area that needs to be constantly refined and watched over.
Why Is It Hard To Detect?
Just because someone is able to walk around, drive a car, and perform other daily tasks doesn’t necessarily mean that they aren’t disabled and legally entitled to disability benefits. One of the main reasons that disability can be so hard to detect is because of the wide variety of medical conditions.
These may not be immediately recognizable to other people who aren’t aware of the specifics of that particular medical condition that the disability beneficiary may have. These types of disabilities are known as “invisible disabilities” and some the common ones include:
- Chronic fatigue: This type of disability refers to an individual who constantly feels tired. This can be extremely debilitating and affect every aspect of a persons every day life.
- Chronic dizziness: Often associated with problems of the inner ear, chronic dizziness can lead to impairment when walking, driving, working, sleeping, and other common tasks.
- Chronic pain: A variety of conditions may cause chronic pain. A few of those reasons may be back problems, bone disease, physical injuries, and any number of other reasons. Chronic pain may not be noticeable to people who do not understand the victims specific medical condition.
- Mental illness: There are many mental illnesses that do qualify for disability benefits. Some examples are depression, attention deficit disorder, schizophrenia, agoraphobia, and many others. These diseases can also be completely debilitating to the victim, and can make performing everyday tasks extremely difficult, if not impossible.
What’s The Real Problem?
Governments around the world constantly take measures to optimize the disability program and prevent fraudulent benefits. But what about those who are in the program already? How do you find out who is a disabled person in disguise? That’s the real problem.
As a consequence, the program’s purpose is eroding. The actual disabled people receive less money and those who should qualify find it hard to be accepted into the system. Meanwhile, taxpayers pay off life expenses for healthy people who tricked the system.
Types Of Disability Fraud
The system can be tricked in many ways: manipulate data, hide information, fake documents, or impersonate the institution itself. Most fraud cases fall into one or more of these categories.
You need a real disability to qualify for the benefits. But “good actors” can fake their behavior whenever it’s convenient. If their disability is invisible, they are more likely to lie about it.
You may live a normal personal life, then behave differently when visiting the doctor.
By faking information, we also include documentation. A trickster may create medical reports that look legit.
What’s the most common cause of scams? The applicant doesn’t provide enough information. If there’s any grey area, scammers will exploit it.
People will hide as long as those conditions are hard to verify and ensure more benefits.
Thankfully, the SSI has become more strict for validating this data. New requesters need to provide accurate information. Those who are in the program already will need to do so as well.
Despite the efforts, some data is difficult to fake. When scammers find these walls, they give up on faking medical documents.
Instead, they find someone with a disability and share privileges with them. Because who wouldn’t approve a real disabled person?
Fake Social Security Cards
Cards are the simplest way to identify disabled people. If something doesn’t look right, you can ask for the ID and verify it.
Needless to say, anybody can fake these cards, although it’s not common. But who is the fraudster to go after? The fake cardholder or the seller?
A smart scammer fakes one card for himself, then sell the others for profits. The problem? You have millions of disabled people holding fake cards thinking they’re real. They may pay penalties, and the real con man is out of reach, distributing more cards.
Most injuries aren’t severe. People recover after a few monhs or years and can start living a normal life, which in turn cancels their disability benefits.
But people want to keep them forever. When doctors revise them, they act as if they were disabled or find excuses, even if they recovered years ago. Do they deserve it?
Many choose to avoid these exams and keep their expired medical documents hidden. As long as they make free money and it gets unnoticed, they won’t expose themselves.
Disability benefits are not exclusive to disabled people. If you are also in a tight financial situation, you can benefit from the SSI program.
The Supplemental Security Income program helps disabled people with responsibilities but no income sources. You can benefit from work compensations as well.
If you are already receiving help, however, it limits your disability benefits. A scammer wouldn’t tell social security about these other programs in order to keep those benefits.
The result? A person who should only receive money from disability benefits is also earning from supplemental security income or work compensations.
Impersonating Social Security
If you’ve tried everything but can’t fake it, your last option is identity theft. Scammers can impersonate the institution and act as registers.
They call you on the phone and talk about all these benefits you’re missing. Or perhaps they need your credentials to validate the account.
If the disabled person hasn’t applied yet, a scammer can steal the information and register under their name. Banking scammers will target people with benefits to steal from their accounts.
Myths About Disability Fraud
Getting Disability Benefits is Easy
It is not easy to receive disability benefits. In the USA, more than 50 percent of applicants for disability benefits are rejected. Some are rejected mainly because they have not worked long enough. It’s harder to get on disability benefits in the USA than it is in many other countries around the world.
To qualify, a person must have worked at least a quarter of their adult life and 5 of the last 10 years. Some are refused on medical grounds: to qualify, a physical or mental disability must be severe and likely to last at least 12 months.
In fact, it can be very difficult to qualify for a disability. Many of the applicants who are accepted are initially rejected and have undergone an additional assessment of their claims before receiving any benefits.
You can Easily Fake Eligibility
It’s not easy to fake a disability. People who are worried about faking tend to fear that some disabilities, including back problems and depression, are not easy to recognise. This does not mean that they are being faked.
Moreover, many physical disorders – which are the main cause of disability for the vast majority of people – are clearly visible. Similarly, many mental disorders that lead to disability are clearly debilitating for those affected, including bipolar disorders, schizophrenia and disorders associated with damage to the brains.
If the majority of people with disabilities would fake this, they would not have such high death rates. People with disabilities are three to six times more likely to die than people in their age group who are not disabled.
Disability Claims Are Skyrocketing
Disability claims are not skyrocketing, rather they remain in similar numbers throughout the last years. The population demographics that is eligible to receive disability benefits is for those aged 18 to 64. The statistics of the disabled population is publicly obtainable here.
Will Disability Fraud Ever Stop?
Disability cases can become very complex. Knowing that most cases base on invisible injuries, it’s difficult to detect them. Seemingly there will always be people who take advantage of taxpayer’s goodwill.
The most probable solution to this is prevention. The program managers have to create a form that filters the wrong applicants. At the same time, the existing members have to be screened and verified periodically to stay in the program.
What Are the Preventive Measures?
Applicants may fail to give enough information. If an unwarranted person is approved, it’s difficult to justify it. Before entering the program, applicants should include all the credentials, health reports and financial condition.
Asking for documents with periodical renewal is the best protective measure. Unless the beneficiary can provide updated versions, the benefactor reserves the right to remove you from the program.
Get Paid To Bust The Thief
These institutions aren’t omnipresent. The success of these programs relies on how willing people are to cooperate. Nobody knows the truth about fraudulent disability cases, however people who are close to or live nearby a beneficiary may assist in uncovering the truth.
In the United States, you can get paid to report disability and social security scams. Depending on the level of detail provided, you can get anywhere from 1% to 15% of the money lost.
But what if a person is an acquaintance, someone you interact with frequently? Disability scams can cost the perpetrators up to $250,000 in fines or five years in prison. Would you involve and report the scam?
You can report anonymously to the OIG, and they will do the rest. The Office of the Inspector General will contact the person you have reported to validate the evidence you provided.
Periodical Disability Exams
Disability and welfare programs don’t only ask you for papers. Their disability examiners will check the information and decide if they should approve the case.
If the check-up happened decades ago, the person could no longer qualify for help today. Like national IDs, Social Security cards should include credentials and last check-up results.
Documents with expiration dates prevent post-recovery scams. Little by little, verification technology is added and aids in removing the undeserving people from the program.
The Bottom Line
Disability fraud can be a really difficult crime to prevent and can last for years before it is detected. Catching everyone would require constant surveillance, which for many reasons would not be the best thing to do.
Advances in medical and computer technologies have made combating fraud more effective, but it’s still a very difficult form of fraud to enforce against. Disability fraud is damaging to taxpayers and people with legitimate disabilities who are the ultimate loosers in this schemes.
One of the best weapons that governments have in combating disability fraud are average citizens who file a report, when they believe that fraud is occurring. This still isn’t the best system though, since most people aren’t going to know exactly what disability the accused offender has or how it affects them.
In order to be vigilant, if you think someone who is receiving disability benefits may be collecting those benefits fraudulently, then you should carefully consider what condition they may be receiving benefits for before filing a report.