According to WIBW-TV, a former solider pleaded guilty recently to Social Security fraud after he received benefits that he was ineligible for.
The news outlet reported that James Scott Nickerson, 37, of Ft. Riley, Kansas pleaded guilty last month to one count of making a false official statement to a federal agency. Nickerson reportedly was paid a total of $71,734 in Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits by the Social Security Administration (SSA) that he was ineligible for.
In 2009, Nickerson reportedly applied for benefits under the Wounded Warrior Program, saying he was unable to work because he suffered from “organic mental disorders” that he developed while serving a deployment in Iraq.
While he was collecting benefits, Nickerson reportedly worked full time for the Army doing various duties, including acting as a platoon sergeant. He reportedly lied to the SSA, claiming he worked no more than 20 hours per week.
Nickerson allegedly completed three different Work Activity Reports through the SSA and was asked to identify his supervisors so that the agency could verify his work activity. He reportedly gave the agency contact information for people who were not his supervisors.
Nickerson is scheduled to be sentenced on September 8. He faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000. As a part of his pleading, Nickerson has agreed to pay $71,734 in restitution to the SSA.
I Am a Wounded Veteran. Am I Eligible For Disability Benefits?
Unfortunately, cases like this shed a negative light on SSA beneficiaries. The Wounded Warrior Program does many great things for veterans who are returning home and are unable to work because of their disabilities. This includes helping them apply for disability benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the SSA.
It should be noted that the VA and SSA use very different approaches when it comes to determining disability benefit eligibility. The SSA uses an “all or nothing” approach when it comes to determining whether a person qualifies for SSDI, while the VA uses a structured percentage system to determine if someone is disabled.
If you are receiving benefits because the VA considers you a lower percentage of disabled, it may be a strong indication that you are not eligible for SSDI benefits. However, this does not mean that you should not seek representation that can help you through the process.
Troutman & Troutman, P.C. – Tulsa Social Security disability attorneys