Temperatures sank to the single digits, but spirits remained high in St. Paul, Minnesota earlier this month.
On a frigid winter morning, officials from SSA, OIG, and the State of Minnesota gathered to celebrate the opening of a Cooperative Disability Investigations unit in the Twin Cities.
SSA and OIG, in partnership with the Minnesota Disability Determination Services (DDS) and the State’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, are teaming up to identify and prevent Social Security disability fraud and abuse throughout Minnesota. The St. Paul CDI Unit will comprise employees from the four organizations.
Michael Robinson, Assistant Inspector General for Investigations, attended the event and thanked the Minnesota agencies for collaborating with SSA and OIG and committing to CDI.
“We credit CDI’s success, in large part, to the cooperative nature of the program,” Robinson said. “The program saves taxpayer money for future generations, inspires public confidence in government, and reduces fraud and abuse across government agencies.”
CDI is in the midst of expansion, with the St. Paul CDI Unit serving as one of 12 new units that have opened since August 2014. SSA and OIG have promoted program expansion with media events similar to St. Paul opening, which you can read about here, or watch a video about here.
New Units Making Progress
The St. Paul Unit and several other new CDI units—in Birmingham, Charleston, Milwaukee, Raleigh, and Washington, D.C.—are making progress toward beginning investigative work. Other units established in recent months are up and running already, yielding positive results. New CDI units in Baltimore, Des Moines, Little Rock, Miami, and Providence are receiving allegations from SSA and DDS personnel and gathering evidence to help them make informed determinations.
For example, in Miami, CDI investigators looked into the case of a man who applied for disability alleging depression and bipolar disorder. He claimed he did not drive and was emotionally unstable. The Florida Division of Disability Determination (DDD) referred his claim to the CDI Unit because they suspected the man might have exaggerated his ailments. In Miami, the CDI unit includes investigators from Florida’s Department of Financial Services.
The investigation revealed the man recently obtained a driver’s license and was working as a commercial vehicle driver. Further, CDI found the man to be active on social media, and he had a group of friends that he joined for regular gym workouts. With this information, the Florida DDD denied the man’s claim, resulting in thousands of dollars in projected savings to SSA and the State of Florida.
Detroit Team Generating SSA Savings
All of our new CDI units can model themselves after the group in Detroit that has been working CDI cases for more than a year and a half. The Detroit CDI Unit launched in August 2014 and was the first unit to open as part of CDI expansion plans introduced in early 2014.
In Detroit, we have partnered with the Michigan Department of Human Services. The unit has closed numerous CDI cases in the last 18 months, generating significant savings for SSA and the State.
In one case, the Detroit Unit investigated a woman who was receiving disability benefits for learning disorders, back problems, and asthma. The Michigan DDS referred the case because it suspected the woman had exaggerated her claimed disabilities during a medical exam.
The CDI investigation revealed the woman was working at a pet store and was in the process of joining the U.S. Air Force. They also found that the woman showed no signs of mental or physical impairments in her daily activities. With this information, the Michigan DDS stopped the woman’s disability payments.
The Detroit Unit has already contributed to more than $3.3 million in projected savings to SSA’s programs and more than $4 million in projected savings to related Federal and State programs.
If you suspect disability fraud, please report it to us at https://oig.ssa.gov/report.