Fraud Unfairly Affects Rightful Disability Benefits Recipients

A recent news article about an ex-postal worker sentenced for worker’s compensation fraud caught my attention and bears mentioning in this blog.

First, let’s talk about the ex-postal worker. She was a Florida resident and reportedly injured her back during the annual Letter Carrier’s Food Drive in 2009. Due to her injuries, she alleged that she could no longer deliver mail. She was relieved of her mail carrying duties and placed on “light duty” work. During this time, she collected worker’s compensation benefits since her pay was reduced due to the lessened responsibilities.

However, evidence—including videos and photographs—showed that this allegedly injured worker competed in 80 long-distance races including marathons and triathlons following her injury. According to news reports, her times improved after her injury. A federal jury convicted the allegedly injured ex-postal worker of health care fraud and making false statements to collect benefits. She faces up to 15 years in prison and will be sentenced on July 25.

While this case was a worker’s compensation case, its message and repercussions will be felt throughout many other programs. As a Social Security disability attorney, cases like these are disheartening to me for a number of reasons. Mostly because I know that most benefit recipients (whether worker’s compensation or disability) are truly in need of the benefits. They are not stealing from the system, but relying on the system. But cases like these are used by those in power to make it much more difficult for truly injured or disabled people to get benefits.

I know that in every system there will be those who abuse and steal from it for their own personal gain, and I am in full favor of rooting out such fraud and punishing those who abuse these much-needed systems.

Loyd J. Bourgeois
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Nationally recognized lawyer and author dedicated to fighting life's legal battles with compassion and care
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