Recognition that mental conditions can be just as disabling as physical impairments is something that has been a matter of law for decades. Back in 1985, Congress passed the Mental Illness Bill of Rights Act, requiring states to provide protection and advocacy resources to those with mental illness or disability.
In more recent years, policymakers have pushed for parity in how healthcare insurers cover physical and mental health issues. In the realm of Social Security, the number of mental conditions for which individuals can seek Social Security disability benefits has increased.
Obtaining those benefits is not always easy. Because the mental impairments tend not to be visible, SSDI claims require solid documentation and doctors’ records. Even then, many claims are rejected on first submission. Working with an attorney is always a wise move.
Concern about fraud is also on the minds of Social Security Administration officials. Just how much of it takes place is hard to pin down, but it would be naïve to suggest it doesn’t happen.
Los Angeles readers need look no further than this week’s headlines for one of the latest cases of alleged SSDI fraud. New York City authorities have charged more than 100 individuals with defrauding the federal disability program out of millions of dollars.
Officials say the alleged scam ran for more than 26 years and may have involved hundreds of people. Most of those arrested and charged this week were former police officers, firefighters and jail guards. All of them are alleged to have been coached on how to fake psychiatric problems. Officials claim many of them falsely cited trauma from the 9/11 terror attacks as the cause of their impairments.
The investigation is said to be continuing and officials say more arrests are possible.
Source: Los Angeles Times, “Ex-New York police officers, firefighters charged in disability scam,” The Associated Press, Jan. 7, 2014