Last month we posted about a case prosecutors out East are developing against a large group suspected of trying to defraud the Social Security disability insurance system. At that time, just over 100 people had been named in indictments. This week, prosecutors announced that another 32 people are facing charges.

As was the case with the first group of defendants, many of those listed in the most recent indictments are former police officers and firefighters. According to authorities, the alleged scam took place over several decades in New York and was fostered by four men who coached individuals on how to fake mental impairment in order to be approved for SSDI benefits. 

No one would argue that the government should shirk its responsibility to weed out possible fraud in the system. Such activities as those alleged in this case not only represent a violation of the law, but likely increase the difficulty that people in California with legitimate mental impairments face in obtaining the benefits they for which they’re eligible. Working with an attorney is always advised when going through the process, and cases such as this one only reinforce that wisdom.

According to prosecutors, many of the defendants indicted lied about having suffered post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the 2001 terror attack that brought down the World Trade Center. To support their claims, prosecutors say they were coached on how to pass mental assessment tests, how to dress and how to behave.

Those who were approved allegedly paid the leaders a one-time cash payment based on the amount of their monthly benefit. Prosecutors allege some of the defendants collected their pensions while receiving SSDI benefits, and some also allegedly had gone on to work other jobs, despite their claims they were too disabled to work at all.

Source: CNN, “More NYC police and firefighters indicted in PTSD scam,” Susan Candiotti and Ray Sanchez, Feb. 25, 2014