The Social Security Administration (SSA) provides financial assistance to people who meet specific criteria and are disabled because of illness, injury or other conditions that prevent them from working. Today’s Fraud of the Day studies a troubling indictment of a former public servant who allegedly neglected to report that he was receiving Social Security disability payments while serving in his state’s legislature. (Probably not something likely to be highlighted in campaign literature.)
A news release from the SSA’s Office of the Inspector General, Office of Investigations stated that a former legislator from Sugar Creek, Mo., was indicted on Social Security fraud charges after allegedly collecting nearly $60,000 in federal disability payments while also receiving a paycheck for his work as a Missouri statehouse member.
According to the indictment, the former lawmaker applied for disability insurance benefits in February 2000 due to a neck injury sustained in a farm accident. The legislator began his term as a Missouri state representative in January 2003 and held the office through December 2010 and earned $30,000 a year. The indictment alleges he continued to collect disability payments.
The SSA conducted a continuing disability review in May 2003 to determine if the former legislator was still eligible to receive disability payments. The indictment claims that during that review the former statehouse member completed a form that confirmed he was unable to return to work because of the injury and that he had not done any work since being disabled. (If true, it’s not looking for good for him.) He is charged with theft of government money through disability payments, disability fraud for failing to disclose material events, making false statements to federal agents and mail fraud.
In September 2008, the SSA mailed the former lawmaker a bill for $58,917 for disability overpayments he received between January 2004 and February 2008. He appealed the decision, but he was found at fault for causing the overpayment. Just as a side note, he submitted a new application for disability benefits in January 2011. (Pretty bold – might as well go for broke.) He withdrew his application in February 2011. (Smart move.)
The job of an elected official is to serve the people. The laws that are meant to protect citizens are also required to be followed by the people who make the laws. In this case, the federal trial jury will be responsible for determining whether this former legislator is guilty or innocent.