Tahlequah Daily Press

Editorials

January 10, 2014

Disability fraud: Bad apples in the Big Apple

TAHLEQUAH — Given the lingering legacy of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, it was bound to happen: Someone make a bogus claim of damages incurred, and expect the rest of the taxpayers to foot the bill.

In the wake of those traumatic events, Americans put police officers and firefighters on pedestals, and for good reason: Many of them risked their lives trying to save their fellow citizens. Nearly 400 died in the immediate aftermath, and others died later or became sick from exposure to toxins.

Few would argue those who were injured shouldn’t be cared for, or that fellow Americans shouldn’t rush to the aid of fallen heroes and their families. But the 80 retired cops, firefighters and others who took advantage of this national tragedy to enrich themselves deserve the harshest punishment the law can provide.

These “civil servants” were part of a behemoth disability fraud scheme that started as far back as the 1980s.  The group of 9/11 perpetrators, and a few dozen before them, were claiming Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits of $30,000 to $50,000 a year, purportedly because they suffered post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression that rendered them unable to work or, in some cases, even venture from their homes. But a two-year probe revealed the depth of their avarice.

Though they masqueraded as “heroes,” they turned out to be deadbeats who were perfectly capable of holding jobs. The evidence was in their propensity for taking judo lessons, flying helicopters and jet-skiing.

A few SSDI staffers cooked up the scam, going as far as teaching the deadbeats how to feign mental and psychiatric stress. Among the organizers were a retired NYPD cop, a detective’s union honcho, a pension adviser, and perhaps not surprisingly, a lawyer.

 As state budgets are tightened and officials look for ways to get folks off state entitlement programs, those fraudulently clinging to the taxpayer teat will find other sanctuaries. Increasingly, SSDI is becoming one of those havens. Here and there, slick-tongued shysters and unethical doctors have colluded to get as many people on SSDI as possible.

Some states have hired consulting agencies to help choral people into the disability pasture. It’s ironic, because many who are truly disabled find it  impossible to gain a berth on the SSDI rolls. Cynics can be forgiven for believing it’s all about who you know, and how savvy you are at circumventing the system.

If the SSDI rolls continue to expand at the current rate, it won’t be long before the whole system collapses. To keep pace, taxes have to be raise on segments of the population, or other federal spending will have to be cut – and neither option seems likely, thanks to those other deadbeats whom voters elected to Congress.

It’s as simple as this: Those who can work, should work – and when they steal from taxpayers and other legitimately disabled Americans, they should be branded as criminals. We need a better system of catching the freeloaders.

If they’re skiing behind boats or down slopes, dancing all night at college reunions, installing siding on their houses, or engaging in vigorous sexual intercourse with a variety of people, chances are, they’re fit to do some type of job. If nothing else, they can volunteer – manning a crisis hotline, or filling out intake papers at a homeless shelter.

Voters approved drug tests here for all welfare recipients, even without concrete statistics to indicate widespread drug use is a problem.  

Perhaps we should also insist on frequent checks to ensure those on the SSDI rolls are, in fact, disabled. And we can start by looking at beneficiaries who have the energy to rant in public forums against others on entitlement programs. It’s a good bet those hypocrites, like the gaggle of fakers in New York, are capable of working – if any employer will have them.

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Editorials
  • As education, good jobs falter, violent crime rate will go up

    As April winds down, and with it Child Abuse Prevention Month, it’s worth again noting that the rate of violence in Oklahoma has been creeping up in recent years. And it’s time for our state’s top leaders – who wear blinders when it comes to anything negative – to discuss what we’re going to do about it.
    Late last year, the FBI listed Oklahoma as the 10th most dangerous state in the union, based on statistics from 2012. Violent crimes are rape, murder, robbery and aggravated assault. Some Okies might find it a bit disconcerting to learn that our state ranked above California and New York in this data. Topping the list was Tennessee, followed by Nevada, Alaska, New Mexico, South Carolina, Delaware, Louisiana, Florida and Maryland.

    April 23, 2014

  • Ban on wage hikes by municipalities a mark of hypocrisy

    The words “God” and “governor” may share the same first two letters, but the two are hardly interchangeable.
    But let’s assume Gov. Mary Fallin really isn’t deluded enough to place her powers on the level of a deity. What rationale would a woman who has championed smaller government and local control use to explain her hypocrisy in banning individual Oklahoma cities from raising minimum wages in their jurisdictions?

    April 18, 2014

  • Community cleanups a good way to ensure our collective success

    This is our community – and it’s no better than what we make it. Let’s make it look great.

    April 16, 2014

  • Attack at school in Pennsylvania: Mental illness root of problem

    Washington’s crusade against guns was dealt a severe blow on Wednesday. No, it wasn’t the Supreme Court curtailment of the Second Amendment right of all Americans to own firearms. It wasn’t an executive order handed down by the administration. It was the brutal assault by a high school student in Pennsylvania against his fellow students – with a knife.

    April 14, 2014

  • People with faulty zippers should be booted from office

    We may forgive, but we shouldn’t forget, because there’s serious work to do in Washington. That work will never be accomplished as long as flawed zippers - literally or figurately – are a pervasive problem.

    April 11, 2014

  • Do your part to fight animal and child abuse

    It’s hard to change the habits of an abuser, especially when mitigating factors – such as alcohol or drugs – are involved. And these patterns tend to repeat themselves in successive generations. But all of us can take one small step to help eradicate this epidemic, and that is to report it when we see it.

    April 9, 2014

  • NSA head lies to Congress, and seems to get away with it

    Is there an obvious pattern of criminality within these governmental agencies? If so, why isn’t the Judicial Department investigating?

    April 7, 2014

  • Pass for rich kiddie rapist proves that justice isn’t blind

    Someone in Wilmington, Del., needs to keep an eye on Superior Court Judge Jan Jurden for the next few months, because she might improve her standard of living due to a sudden influx of cash.
    There’s no other way to explain why Jurden would have sentenced an ultra-wealthy heir to the du Pont fortune to probation for raping his 3-year-old daughter. It’s an outrageous miscarriage of justice that once again proves when it comes to the U.S. justice system, the elite get a pass almost every time.

    April 4, 2014

  • Maybe it’s not $3.2B, but state should still account for tribal cash

    In an editorial published last week, the Daily Press said that through tribal compacts, the state of Oklahoma received about $3.2 billion in annual revenue, partly attributable to the 117 casinos (or 118, in some reports) run by 33 tribes in the state. The information we accessed for that piece was confusing, and had a typo or two, which may have led us to overstate – to a considerable degree – how much money the tribes actually give the state.

    April 2, 2014

  • Tribal compacts should mean state has money to perform its functions

    Oklahoma should be rolling in the dough. The statistics bear that out. Thirty-three American Indian tribes operate 117 casinos in this state. Thanks to “compacts,” these tribes have been sharing the wealth with the state of Oklahoma. And thanks to the casinos, that wealth is substantial.

    March 28, 2014

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