Updating a story we have been following throughout the year, one of the leaders in a massive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) scam in New York City has pleaded guilty to first-degree grand larceny.
The scam caught national headlines earlier this year, as the people involved included hundreds of former cops and firefighters. Some defendants received as much as $50,000 per year through SSDI and other funding sources, as they claimed they were no longer able to work due to the trauma caused by the September 11, 2001 attacks.
According to the New York Daily News, Joseph Esposito, 70, pleaded guilty last week to the larceny charge and could get 1.5 years in prison as long as he actively participates in the ongoing criminal investigations. He will also have to pay about $734,000 in restitution.
Should People Found Guilty of Social Security Fraud Face Tough Punishment?
People who attempt to cheat the SSDI system by receiving payments that they do not qualify for should be punished to the fullest extent of the law. Unfortunately, crimes like this contribute to the narrative that SSDI is simply a get rich scheme for people who do not want to work—this is simply untrue.
In fact, in most cases, SSDI applicants are turned down initially—it has been estimated that only about 40 percent of applicants are approved for benefits. In addition, most people who receive benefits live very modestly, often at or below the federal poverty line.
Remember, to qualify for benefits, applicants have to show that their disabilities have lasted for longer than a year or could result in death—simply put, it is not easy to collect SSDI.
If you suffer from a disability that leaves you unable to work, we suggest contacting our Tulsa Social Security disability attorney today. We can help your case move forward.
Troutman & Troutman, P.C. – Tulsa Social Security disability attorneys