Last month we covered the shocking story of a Vietnam veteran who collected $180,000 in veterans’ disability benefits after shooting himself in the leg and claiming a war wound. This week, we heard about another disappointing case of VA disability fraud: an Iraq veteran collected over $22,000 after claiming he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), brain injuries, back injuries, hearing loss, anxiety, and depression after active duty. However, an investigation revealed that he had held an office position and was never exposed to significant danger and was not injured. He will serve three months in prison, three months of house arrest, and three years of probation.
It is extremely important to understand that the former servicemen in the two above fraud cases aren’t just stealing money from the government, they are also making it significantly harder for other deserving veterans to obtain the financial support that they desperately need.
First and foremost, faking mental conditions such as PTSD, depression, and anxiety takes credibility away from those who actually suffer from the illnesses. Disabilities that don’t have many outward, physical signs can indeed be easier to fake. Even one dishonest veteran casts doubt on those who are truly struggling. It is already hard enough for some soldiers to speak up about nightmares, panic attacks, and agoraphobia – knowing that some may not believe them is an insult.
Secondly, veterans’ disability fraud cases waste the time and resources of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. Currently, there is a significant backlog of disability benefits cases and many vets are waiting patiently to receive the support they need. Those lying about disabilities take up the time of benefit claims employees, essentially putting real wounded soldiers behind them in line.
At Morgan & Weisbrod, it does not need to be said that we absolutely condemn disability benefits fraud. In fact, we are committed to helping disabled veterans – with both physical and mental conditions – to secure the disability benefits they need and deserve.
Are you a wounded vet who needs help? Contact our VA disability benefits lawyers today to speak to someone who can assist you.
by Paul B. Burkhalter Managing Partner of Morgan & Weisbrod, Board Certified in Social Security Disability Law.