Puerto Rico Disability Claims Under Probe

Monday, 12 Sep 2011 05:05 PM

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Allegations of widespread fraud in Social Security disability claims in Puerto Rico are being investigated by the SSA’s inspector general.

The investigation stems from the closing of a pharmaceutical plant where 290 of 300 laid off workers filed for disability benefits using the same doctor, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The inspector general, Patrick O’Carroll, made reference to the matter in remarks at a disability-examiners conference. Assistant inspector general Jonathan Lasher wouldn’t comment on the case but said, "The office of the inspector general is continuing to pursue any number of fraud allegations in Puerto Rico related to the Social Security disability program," the Journal reported.

A March Wall Street Journal story found that in 2010 benefits were awarded in 63.4 percent of cases in Puerto Rico, far higher than in other locations. The Journal report also found that nine of the 10 top U.S. zip codes for workers collecting Social Security disability benefits are in Puerto Rico.

A Social Security Administration spokesman said in light of "statistical trends" in Puerto Rico it has asked the inspector general's office to "make sure that these trends do not reflect an increase in fraud," the Journal reported. The disability program was started in the 1950s and is designed to provide help to Americans who can no longer work as a result of illness or injury.


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