An Arlington woman, her two sons, and her cousin have reportedly been arrested on fraud charges for making misrepresentations to the Social Security Administration. According to The Dallas Morning News, the Social Security disability fraud has been going on since 1978. It was that year that the woman allegedly first applied for Social Security disability benefits because of a reported mental condition. Later the woman applied for benefits on behalf of her two sons, and her cousin also applied for Social Security disability benefits. It is now alleged that together the four family members received more than $461,000 in Social Security disability benefits they were not eligible to receive.
How Did This Happen?
Social Security disability attorney Carl Weisbrod explained the situation this way to The Dallas Morning News: “It probably has to do with lack of resources and funding from Congress to do adequate reviews. They’ve never fully funded the continuing disability review process.” A 2014 report from the Social Security inspector general supports this conclusion. In that report, the inspector general found that the Social Security Administration (SSA) does not have the resources or tools to adequately investigate cases of alleged fraud.
In the case of the Arlington family, the four relatives who were arrested allegedly “misrepresented their actual levels of intelligence and functioning” when they applied for Social Security disability benefits and when they appeared for hearings and appeals throughout the years. Additionally, according to Mr. Weisbrod, the family likely “duped” a psychiatrist or other doctor and the SSA relied on that doctor’s report. Investigators eventually followed the family and found that they acted very differently in their daily lives than they did before the SSA.
Mr. Weisbrod believes that such cases of Social Security disability fraud are rare. However, they are important to know about and it remains important that the rights of people who are truly disabled and genuinely eligible for Social Security disability are protected.
by Paul B. Burkhalter Managing Partner of Morgan & Weisbrod, Board Certified in Social Security Disability Law.