Is the physical labor associated with the sport of bodybuilding enough to assume that a person is able to work? That was the question that a federal jury in Boston recently faced in deciding the fate of a fireman whom federal prosecutors accused of fraudulently receiving disability benefits.
The 49-year-old claimed that in 2008 he fell at a vacant firehouse and aggravated a back injury that he suffered while working back in 2000. He ran afoul of the law when someone videotaped him competing in a strenuous bodybuilding contest just six weeks after he supposedly severely aggravated the back injury.
The jury found the man not guilty. Some of the jurors commented that, while they thought he had schemed to fraudulently receive the disability benefits, the evidence did not meet the standard of beyond a reasonable doubt for the charges that the prosecutors brought – namely, mail fraud.
One would have to think that, under different charges, the jury would have no problem finding the former firefighter guilty of theft of disability benefits. Surely training for and competing in a bodybuilding contest suggest that he was able to perform some type of work. But now he gets to keep his city pension as well as the already paid benefits.
Truly disabled American workers who are receiving disability benefits or who are trying to receive them are the ones who suffer when others take advantage of the system like this man. The costs associated with investigating him and then putting him on trial add hundreds of thousands to the amount that he already took. This is a large sum of money that could have gone towards legitimately disabled Americans facing financial troubles.
Troutman & Troutman, P.C. – Tulsa Social Security disability attorneys