Social Security Disability Fraud
In 2013, over 2.6 million Social Security disability claims were filed. With a good percentage of them being ultimately approved, the chance for fraud is far higher than most would like. In fact, “fraud is so rampant, and disability cases have so proliferated in recent years, that the Social Security’s Disability Trust Fund may run out of money in only 18 months,” said Sen. Tom Coburn, whose office undertook an investigation on fraud in 2013.
The investigation took a random examination of 300 case files by Congressional staff. It found that more than a quarter of the case files failed to properly address insufficient, contradictory, or incomplete evidence.
The Most Outrageous, Fraudulent Cases
There are millions of cases proved to be fraudulent, and some of the most outrageous include:
- Eric C. Conn – He was an attorney with a small office in Stanville, Kentucky where 10% to 15% of the population receives disability payments. Conn allegedly paid five doctors almost $2 million to provide favorable disability opinions for his claimants. In 2010, a judge in the district approved 1,375 disability cases prepared by Conn’s office and denied only four of them — a rate that other administrative law judges have described as practically impossible. The Social Security Administration paid Conn over $4.5 million in attorney fees, making him the third highest paid disability law firm in the country. He is currently under investigation.
- Samuel Torres Crespo – He was a Social Security employee who, along with three doctors and 71 Social Security claimants, are all accused of fraudulently receiving more than $2 million in disability benefit payments. Crespo took $2.5 million for himself while directing claimants to doctors who would file false claims.
- James W. Smith — In 2005, this information technology supervisor from Minnesota was diagnosed with early-onset dementia. In his forties, Smith used his struggle against dementia to become a leading voice for Alzheimer’s awareness regionally and even nationally. However, Smith later admitted to altering his speech, writing, and appearance during examinations – and to collect over $140,000 in disability payments.
- Anthony Patrick Stanford — Between 1999 and 2002, this veteran had reported pain, had various surgeries on his ankles and wrists, and was ultimately given a mechanical wheelchair. Stanford then applied for and received over $7,000 per month in Social Security Disability, and other benefits including assistance from the VA. Stanford would later be found driving, lifting, and even strolling through Disney World in Orlando without a wheelchair, walker, cane, or even a limp. The estimated amount of fraudulent payments he received was in the millions.
- Dr. Jorge Martinez – Martinez was an Ohio pain management specialist who tried to fool insurance companies out of $60 million for narcotic drugs and expensive diagnostic tests he never performed. He received about $12 million by fraudulently billing insurers for more than 100 patients a day for years. He’s now serving life in prison.