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New Details About an Alleged 9/11 Social Security Disability Scam

Posted on Jan 30, 2014

Eighty retired New York first responders were recently accused of faking injuries sustained at Ground Zero on September 11, 2001, in order to collect Social Security disability benefits.

A recent report by the National Bureau of Economic Research stated that the fake 8/11 claims, which allegedly cost tax payers $400 million in payments, were filed after Congress made the disability system a more tempting target for fraud when it loosened the definition of who is “disabled.” The NBER report also claims that the broader definition of disability has lead to the doubling of non-elderly adults receiving payouts since the 1980s.

In the alleged 9/11 Social Security scam involving the New York Police Department (NYPD) and the Fire Department of New York (FDNY), prosecutors stated the accused scammers were coached about how to qualify to receive disability. Some of the tips they received included recommendations to claim that they could not sleep, they could not do basic arithmetic, or they could not go outdoors.

After making these and other claims to receive disability benefits, investigators found some of the accused flying helicopters, riding on jet skis, teaching karate, deep-sea fishing, or running half-marathons. According to a study done by Mark Duggan and Scott Imberman, many able-bodied Americans qualify for federal disability benefits because of the looser criteria.

The study by Duggan and Imberman also disputed the claims made by the Social Security Administration that the increase in Social Security disability recipients is due to the aging population. They claim instead that the increase came with congressional reforms in 1984 that made the medical criteria more lax.

As New England Social Security disability lawyers, we are saddened to hear of more charges of people filing fraudulent disability claims, and we hope that those who need disability benefits are able to receive the money they deserve.

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John L. Keefe
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Founding Attorney of Keefe Disability Law