When You Suffer From an “Invisible” Disability
Unfortunately, when many people think of a disability qualifying for Social Security Benefits, their mind immediately turns to someone with a physical ailment or medical condition that is visible to the world. However, a person’s disability isn’t always so plain to see.
For some, their disability is considered an “invisible” disorder such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or any other type of mental illness. But, how can a person who suffers from an “invisible” disorder avoid being incriminated with Social Security Disability (SSD) fraud?
Social Security Administration Cracking Down
Since Social Security disability program fraud is such a hot-button topic, it can be difficult avoiding scrutiny when you have an illness that isn’t very well understood. And, a few years ago, the Social Security Administration was faced with an investigation looking into widespread fraud that was going on in a region of Kentucky for years.
Unfortunately, that meant that thousands of disability and Supplemental Security income recipients were investigated in the process, even the ones that were rightfully receiving Social Security Disability benefits. The benefit recipients had no choice but to stand by until the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) thoroughly sorted through each disability claims case and determined who was rightfully entitled to Social Security disability benefits.
In addition, the SSA and the OIG launched Cooperative Disability Investigation (CDI) units in Fiscal Year 1998, with the goal to find healthy Social Security Disability benefit recipients and then prosecute them. The people who are investigated by the Office of Investigations, are believed to be suspicious as reported by disability examiners. CDI Units also provide reports to DDS examiners during continuing disability reviews (CDRs).
The CDI program works in conjunction with State Disability and Determination Services (DDS) and state or law enforcement agencies to prevent fraud in SSA’s disability programs.
Each CDI Unit is made up of an OIG Special Agent who serves as the Team Leader, employees from that State’s disability determination services and an SSA employee who act as programmatic experts, and state or local law enforcement officers who analyze and investigate suspicious or questionable Social Security disability claims to help resolve questions of potential fraud before benefits are ever paid.
And, it’s important to note that it doesn’t take much to open an investigation on someone – all that is required is a fraud hotline call or online report from an anonymous source. That means that if anyone you know has a grudge against you or any suspicions, you could be at risk of them filing a fraud referral and being investigated.
Avoiding Being at the Center of an SSD Investigation
So, how can you avoid being accused of social security fraud when you suffer from a disability that doesn’t show up on some sort of physical health test? Try following these helpful tips:
- Maintain regular appointments with your treating physician and be open and honest about the mental symptoms you are experiencing so that there is documentation
- Do not, by any means, minimize the symptoms you are having. It’s important for your treatment providers to know if you are experiencing any problems with your illness
- Always take your psychiatric medication exactly as it has been prescribed. If it doesn’t seem to be working, inform your doctor right away and find out if they have any other recommendations
- Consider regularly attending mental health therapy or a support group to help cope with your condition
- Never reveal your source of income or work activity with your neighbors and also make sure to keep it off of social media
- Be cautious and understand that an investigator could be following you at any time, so be wary of any stranger that asks probing questions
- Never feel like you have to justify or explain your social security disability benefits to anyone
If you find yourself at the center of a disability fraud investigation, seek legal guidance regarding disability programs right away. The law firm of Saffren & Weinberg has knowledgeable Social Security Disability attorneys that have experience dealing with the SSA’s office. Contact us today at 215-309-9577 to get started with a free Social Security Disability case evaluation.