Given the troubles that legitimately disabled Americans often have when applying for disability benefits, it sometimes comes as a shock to see the ease with which fraudsters are able to obtain Social Security disability benefits. For nine years, Alabama woman Jennifer Owens used her daughter-in-law’s identity to obtain disability benefits that went straight to Owens.
Owens’s son married in 2001 and divorced in 2010. In 2002, Owens used her daughter-in-law’s name and Social Security number to apply for disability benefits. Owens also specified on the application form that the benefits should go directly to her. Owens managed to obtain a comprehensive psychological report regarding her daughter-in-law. This medical evaluation involved Owens and another adult female who claimed to be Owens’s daughter-in-law meeting with a clinical psychologist. The psychologist suspected that the alleged daughter-in-law may have been faking symptoms. Nevertheless, the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) approved the disability application, and Owens began receiving benefits.
Owens ran the scheme from 2002 until March earlier this year. It started to come apart when her former daughter-in-law applied for other government benefits, and the government noticed that she had supposedly been receiving disability benefits.
Simple cross-checks like these are one way that the SSA hopes to make its disability benefits system more efficient. By doing a better job of verifying whether disability beneficiaries should continue to receive benefits, the SSA hopes to put those resources wasted on fraudulent beneficiaries to better use. Those interested in applying for disability benefits may wish to consult with a Tulsa SSI attorney.
Troutman & Troutman, P.C. – Tulsa Social Security disability lawyers