If you are receiving disability benefits through workers' compensation and/or through the Social Security Administration, you must actually be disabled and qualify for the benefits that you are receiving. The vast majority of those who are receiving benefits are, in fact, unable to work and are truly in need of the help that is being provided to them. Unfortunately, there are always exceptions to the rule and instances of fraud.
Employers and the Social Security Administration are regularly on the lookout for indications that someone is not as disabled as he claims. Our New York City disability lawyers know that it is important for those receiving benefits not to inadvertently do anything that could make it appear as if you are not suffering from a disability. It is also important to report to your employer or to the Social Security Administration if you have begun working and earning an income, as this can affect your eligibility for benefits.
Exaggerating Disabilities Could Result in Criminal Charges
In recent weeks, there have been several notable cases of individuals who claimed to be disabled but who, in reality, were not actually as impaired as they claimed.
The New York Daily News published the story about a postal worker who was receiving disability benefits for an on-the-job injury. The postal worker had been receiving disability income since 2004 because she claimed that an injury prevented her from standing, sitting, kneeling, bending, reaching squatting, grasping or lifting mail bags.
Despite her claims, however, the worker appeared on the Price is Right and was able to spin the "Big Wheel" without any trouble. She also had photographs of her zip-lining on a cruise and lifting groceries as well as furniture on her Facebook page.
Ironically, this woman was not the only postal worker to make headlines for exaggerating a disability. Just a few weeks later, the SF Examiner published the story of a postal worker who was sentenced to jail and ordered to pay restitution for collecting disability benefits while owning and operating Domino's Pizza stores. Evidence indicated that this worker was delivering pizzas and otherwise engaging in physical activities he claimed he couldn't do with his disability.
Employers On the Lookout for Disability Fraud
While these examples are extreme and unusual, high-profile stories like these are part of the reason why employers are often on the lookout for those who might be trying to game the system and receive disability benefits they are not entitled to.
Unfortunately, sometimes those who suffer from legitimate disabilities could end up getting caught up in a fraud investigation. Those receiving disability benefits need to be careful about the pictures and information they post online and in other public forums to ensure that they do not give a false or misguided impression of their current physical state.
While you might not want to complain on Facebook all the time or be a downer on social media about your severe medical condition, attempts to downplay the injuries or illness that you suffer from could backfire and be used to end your benefits or make a claim that you are engaged in fraud. As such, be careful before posting on any public forum and when in doubt about whether an action you take could jeopardize your benefits, speak with a disability lawyer for advice.
If you are seeking legal assistance with a disability claim in New York, contact the Law Offices of Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano, LLP today by calling (800) 692-3717.