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Sean Kendall

Case of New York City Social Security Fraud hurts Veterans


Posted on Jan 08, 2014

One of the reasons for the VA backlog and the rash of unjustified denials of benefits by the VA is the VA's basic distrust of veterans.  VA will deny claims even when doctors', licensed to practice medicine, diagnose a disability as related to service.  VA officials, despite laws passed by Congress to the contrary, continue to require service medical records diagnosing a condition; what's wrong with a veterans testimony that he or she hurt himself in service.  

Which brings us to the indictment of lawyers and SSA recipients in New York City.  Basically, retired police and firefighters, as well as others, are accused, along with their lawyer, of faking symptoms, including PTSD, in order to obtain Social Security benefits.  The New York Times quotes the District Attorney as saying  "It’s a particularly cynical part of the charged scheme that approximately half the defendants falsely claimed that their psychiatric disabilities were caused by the 9/11 attacks,” Mr. Vance said at a news conference Tuesday afternoon. “This fraud not only forced taxpayers to finance the lifestyles of New York scammers but it also takes away from the already limited resources we have for people who actually suffer from psychiatric disabilities, and that includes of course the brave first responders who ran toward the fires on Sept. 11."  The District Attorney and the New York Times relies on Facebook and pictures of the disabled people enjoying themselves as evidence that people do not have PTSD or other claimed disabilities.  

I don't like it when people fake disabilities, but isn't that the Social Security systems job to determine whether people have disabilities.  People enjoying themselves on Facebook is evidence that the person doesn't have PTSD? And all 70-100 of these people where faking and none of them were discovered by the Social Security adjudicators and Administrative Law Judges.?

Regardless of what is true, this case is only going to render some VA decision-makers more cynical, and they will justify denying benefits because of personal feelings that they just don't like a veteran, even when all the evidence favors the grant of service-connection or a higher rating.  

This is also why personal hearings are so important in the VA system.  A personal hearing allows the VA official to get to know the Veteran, and is a way to dissuade personal prejudices about veterans and their disabilities.  

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