From the Desk of the Assistant IG for External Relations

Beyond the Numbers

Wednesday, September 25, 2013
Posted by: 
Jonathan Lasher

A lot of email comes my way, and in the course of a busy day, the inclination is often to move through it quickly, but it’s an impulse I resist for fear of missing gems buried in the rubble. 

Today I received the monthly Fact Sheet for the Cooperative Disability Investigations, or CDI, program.  As you can read here, the CDI program consists of 25 units across the country that look at potentially fraudulent disability claims at the application stage, before SSA pays out a penny.  Some of the cases that come to CDI are breathtaking.  The (for lack of a better, but still appropriate, word) boldness of some people never ceases to amaze.

Among the case highlights in this month’s report is a 22-year-old woman in Texas who applied for disability based on depression and a bipolar disorder.  But in speaking with investigators (whom she obviously did not know were investigators), she talked excitedly about the degree she’d just received to become a licensed medical assistant, her current hospital internship, and jobs she was seeking at hospitals and clothing stores, even as she told SSA that she was too disabled to work.  Despite her alleged depression, here’s a recent post from her Facebook page: “I’m so happy with life right now; I’m grown, calling the shots, and doing things my way.” Indeed.

She won’t be getting benefits.  Our CDI units make cases like this every day; cases that save enormous amounts of money.  The average disability beneficiary costs the government $260,000; this one likely would have cost a great deal more given her relative youth.  Cases like this make the CDI program one of our most successful endeavors. 

A lot of our allegations come from people like you with a neighbor or acquaintance receiving disability benefits illegally.  If you know of someone committing similar fraud, let us know via the SSA OIG Fraud Hotline.