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Does the SSA Investigate Disability Fraud?

The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program provides benefits to individuals who are no longer able to work due to a disability. To be eligible for the program, you must meet certain requirements, such as paying adequate Social Security taxes and being diagnosed with a qualifying disability. If you meet these requirements, your application should be approved. 

Unfortunately, there are some individuals who fraudulently apply for SSDI benefits. Many people wonder if the Social Security Administration (SSA) investigates fraudulent claims, and the answer is a resounding “yes.” Sometimes the SSA mistakenly investigates legitimate claims, which can be extremely stressful for an applicant who has done nothing wrong. 

The SSDI claims process is often complicated and confusing. If you are having trouble with your application or appeal, contact The Law Offices of Michael Hartup for expert legal advice and representation in Tennessee. To schedule a consultation, call 731-424-5559 or contact us online.

The Office of the Inspector General’s Cooperative Disability Investigations Program

The SSA Office of the Inspector General (OIG)  is responsible for investigating possible fraud in the various SSA programs, including disability benefits. The OIG may investigate situations involving falsified medical records, misuse of SSDI benefits, impersonation of SSA personnel, and other illegal behavior.

The Cooperative Disability Investigations (CDI) program handles most fraud investigations. This program started in 1997 with a few CDI units, and the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 mandated nationwide coverage by CDI by the 2022 fiscal year. There are currently 49 DCI units, each of which usually includes an OID special agent along with other SSA personnel, state Disability Determination Services (DDS) personnel, and state or local law enforcement professionals.

What Constitutes SSDI Fraud?

There are countless ways an individual (or group of people) could try to fraudulently obtain disability benefits, but here are a few examples:

  • Failing to report gainful employment and earned income while receiving disability benefits
  • Continuing to receive and cash disability payments of a deceased SSA beneficiary
  • Falsifying medical records to make a non-qualifying condition meet SSDI requirements
  • Failing to notify the SSA if your medical condition improves and allows you to return to work
  • Filing multiple SSDI applications in different states
  • Receiving benefits as the representative payee, but keeping the payments instead of providing the funds to the true beneficiary 

Essentially, trying to obtain Social Security disability benefits that you aren’t entitled to constitutes fraud. 

How Do Disability Fraud Investigations Get Started?

Most CDI investigations take place before the SSA awards benefits, although the program may also help investigate potential fraud in the Continuing Disability Review process. Most CDI investigations start when someone reports suspected fraud. 

Anyone can make a report of suspected fraud, but most reports come from SSA employees or state DDS employees. These employees may make a report of suspected fraud if they come across inconsistencies in a claim or suspect that an applicant may be lying.

During a disability fraud investigation, the CDI unit may contact the applicant’s doctors and record the applicant’s activities and statements. CDI units may reach out to third parties when looking for evidence of fraud. For example, if the CDI agent suspects that an applicant is faking their difficulties with walking, they may talk with neighbors to determine whether the applicant always uses a walker or wheelchair while at home.

What Happens to Fraudulent Claimants?

If the CDI determines that there is fraudulent activity, there are several actions they may take against the perpetrator:

  • Notifying federal or state prosecutors (penalties for a felony conviction include up to five years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines)
  • Imposing SSA sanctions
  • Pursuing monetary penalties in civil court

The potential consequences of committing SSDI fraud are severe.

How to Avoid Being Investigated for Social Security Disability Fraud

Unfortunately, not all CDI investigations center on people who are actually committing fraud. Sometimes legitimate applicants get investigated because the SSA makes a mistake or a civilian incorrectly suspects fraud and makes a report. 

While there’s no way to guarantee that you will never be investigated for SSDI fraud, you can avoid this circumstance by making sure all your documentation is complete and factual and following the application or appeals process correctly. Working with a disability benefits lawyer may reduce your risk of making unintentional mistakes that could cause an investigation.

Contact Michael Hartup for Help With Your SSDI Claim

If you have worked and paid your Social Security taxes and now have a disability that prevents you from earning income, you may qualify for SSDI benefits. However, the claims process can be stressful and overwhelming, and many eligible applicants have their initial claims denied due to preventable errors. Sometimes, mistakes in legitimate claims get investigated as fraud, which can be a frightening situation.At The Law Offices of Michael Hartup, we help Tennessee residents who are eligible for SSDI benefits navigate the claims process. We can help you understand the requirements and make sure you have all the necessary documentation for your claim. If your previous claim has been denied, we can walk you through the appeals process. To get started, contact us online or call our office in Jackson, Tennessee, at 731-424-5559.

What Is the SSA’s Ticket to Work Program?

The Social Security Administration’s (SSA) disability benefits program is designed to support individuals who are unable to work due to a disability that lasts for at least 12 months. Many people think that receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits prevents you from having a job, but that’s not true. Tennessee residents who want to work without compromising their SSDI benefits may want to consider joining the SSA’s Ticket to Work program.

The SSA’s Ticket to Work program offers a lot of advantages, but like most facets of SSDI, it can be confusing to navigate. If you have questions about your eligibility for SSA disability benefits or want assistance with your application or appeal, The Law Offices of Michael Hartup can help. Call our Jackson, Tennessee, office at (731) 424-5559 or contact us online to schedule a consultation. 

What Is the Ticket to Work Program?

The Ticket to Work program gives SSDI beneficiaries the chance to secure meaningful employment without losing their benefits. The Ticket program is completely free and voluntary. It’s open to beneficiaries who want to return to work or enter the workforce for the first time. 

The Ticket program is designed to help beneficiaries transition into the workforce. It offers guidance and support for individuals who want to move toward financial independence without losing their SSDI benefits in the process. Program participants can receive employment assistance and vocational rehabilitation services. The program works with employers to help participants find appropriate work.

You can also take advantage of the SSA’s Trial Work Period (TWP). This gives you the chance to work for up to 9 months (they don’t have to be consecutive) while still receiving your full benefits. You can use this trial period to decide whether working is the right path for you. During the TWP, you can receive your full SSDI benefits regardless of how much income you earn.

Who Is Eligible for the Ticket to Work Program?

The Ticket program is open to SSDI beneficiaries who are between 18 and 64 years old. It’s available to individuals who want to eventually replace their SSDI benefits with their own income. If you aren’t sure whether you’re ready to start your journey to work, this quiz can help you decide.

Steps to Prove Hearing Loss for a VA Disability Claim

Have you lost some or all of your hearing in the course of serving your country in the military? If so, you’re not alone. In fact, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) states that hearing problems are the most common service-connected disability. A 2015 Noise & Health study indicates that 71 percent of soldiers who served in Afghanistan or Iraq were exposed to loud noises, and 15 percent of this group reported experiencing ringing in their ears. 

If your hearing loss is connected with your military service, you may be eligible for VA disability benefits. The VA states that as of 2020, there were more than 1.3 million veterans receiving disability benefits for hearing loss. There were also over 2.3 million veterans receiving VA disability benefits for tinnitus. Additionally, many veterans who are diagnosed with mental health conditions (e.g., depression, anxiety) also have tinnitus.

At The Law Offices of Michael Hartup, we are dedicated to helping Tennessee veterans get the benefits they deserve. The VA disability benefits system is complicated, so we help people navigate it every step of the way.

Whether you need help submitting your VA disability claim or going through the appeals process, we are ready to assist. Call our Jackson, Tennessee, office at (731) 424-5559. 

What Are the Eligibility Requirements for VA Disability Benefits?

Deafness (complete hearing loss) isn’t the only hearing condition that veterans experience. Other common hearing problems are partial hearing loss, tinnitus (noise or ringing in the ears), and auditory processing disorder (difficulty understanding speech, especially in noisy environments). 

To be eligible for VA disability compensation for hearing loss, you must meet these requirements:

  • You served on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training
  • You were honorably discharged
  • Your hearing loss is linked to an injury or illness you got while serving in the military, OR
  • You had a hearing issue before joining the military that your service made worse

You can apply for VA disability compensation if your hearing problems didn’t appear until after you were discharged but you can show they were related to your military service. If you didn’t receive an honorable discharge, you may be able to apply for a discharge upgrade to become eligible for benefits. 

What Tests Are Required for a Hearing Loss Claim?

To file a VA disability claim, you need evidence to support your claim that your hearing loss is connected with your military service. If you were diagnosed with a hearing condition while you were still in the military, you can use your VA medical records as proof. 

You can also submit private medical records. If your hearing loss was diagnosed by a non-VA medical provider, you can submit those records. You may also submit statements from family members and other people in your life (e.g., friends, clergy members) who can attest that your hearing loss started or worsened in connection with your military service.

Along with VA and/or private medical records related to your hearing issues, you will need to submit the results of two hearing loss tests as part of your disability claim:

  • Pure tone audiometry test, which evaluates the level of your hearing loss
  • Controlled speech discrimination test (a.k.a Maryland CNC test), which evaluates your ability to recognize speech

These tests must be administered by a licensed audiologist. Once you have your results, you can include them with your claim as supporting evidence.

How Do You File a Hearing Loss Claim?

You can file your disability claim for hearing loss online or print out and mail the form. You can also submit your application to a regional VA office in your area. Currently, the average time it takes for the VA to complete a disability claim is 156 days.

The VA will review your application and make a decision about your disability rating. This rating is what determines the amount of benefits you receive; the higher the percentage of your disability, the higher your benefits payments are. The VA’s disability rating schedule indicates that hearing loss can range from 0 percent to 50 percent, depending on severity. Tinnitus receives a 10 percent rating.

Hiring an attorney can make the whole VA disability claims process simpler. An experienced lawyer can help you make sure your initial claim is complete and has as much supporting documentation as possible to increase the chances of getting approved. If you do end up having to file an appeal for a denied claim, an attorney can help you with that too.

Get Expert Assistance With Your VA Disability Claim

As a veteran, you’ve honorably served your country and deserve to be taken care of, especially if you were injured in the line of duty. Hearing loss is something that many veterans experience, but the process of getting disability benefits for it can be overwhelmingly complicated.

At The Law Offices of Michael Hartup, we know how frustrating it can be to try to work through the VA claims process. We’re committed to helping Tennessee veterans get the benefits they deserve. We’ll guide you through the process from gathering evidence for the initial application to filing an appeal (if necessary).

To get started, contact our team of veterans disability attorneys. You can reach our Jackson office at 731-424-5559. Follow us on Facebook to learn more about VA disability benefits.

How to Win a VA Disability Claim

Have you been injured or fallen ill while serving in the military? Has your military service worsened an existing condition? If so, you may be entitled to receive disability compensation benefits from the Veterans Association (VA). To begin receiving benefits, however, you’ll need to file a VA disability claim.

The filing process can be time-consuming and complex, which is why The Law Offices of Michael Hartup will explain how to win a VA disability claim in this blog. If you need further assistance filing your application for benefits, contact us online or call our Jackson, Tennessee, office at (731) 424-5559. 

How the VA Makes a Decision About a Claim

It helps to understand how the VA makes a decision about every claim so that you are prepared when you file your own. Generally, the VA wants to make sure that your condition, illness, or medical issue was caused by or made worse by your time serving in the military. To do that, you’ll need to be deemed eligible for disability compensation first.

You may be eligible for VA disability benefits if you meet these requirements:

Both of these must be true:

  • You have a current condition that affects your mind or body, and
  • You served on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training

And at least one of these must be true:

  • You got sick or injured while serving in the military and can link this condition to your illness or injury, or
  • You had an illness or injury before you joined the military and serving made it worse, or
  • You have a disability related to your active-duty service that didn’t appear until after you ended your service

After the VA determines that you have a service-connected disability, they’ll assign you a disability rating — a number from 0 to 100 — that determines how much compensation you’ll receive. 

To get the proper amount of compensation you deserve, and to increase the chances that your claim is not denied, you’ll need to submit strong evidence and documents that support your disability claim.

Document Any Medical Issues You Experience

It’s extremely important to document any medical problems you experience while in uniform, and to keep personal copies of those documents whenever you can. It’s your responsibility to provide evidence of your service-connected disability when filing your disability claim, and medical records can help.

Ask for and keep copies of records such as:

  • Private medical records
  • Test results
  • Doctor’s diagnosis
  • Health evaluations
  • DD Form 214, your Report of Separation

Even if you don’t need them at the time, ask for and keep copies of these records as issues occur. You can request your records later when filing your claim, but keep in mind that such requests can take time to fulfill.

Get Supporting Documentation from Others 

You aren’t limited to your medical records from military personnel. You can also gather evidence of your service-connected disability from non-military sources, such as:

  • Civilian medical professionals
  • Family members and friends
  • Fellow service members
  • Coworkers

These people in your life can provide honest, personal observations of your symptoms and condition. 

File Your Application

When you are ready to file your application, you’ll fill out the Application for Disability Compensation and Related Compensation Benefits form, also known as Form 21-526EZ.

If you’d like to file your claim by mail, you’ll send it to this address:

Department of Veterans Affairs

Claims Intake Center

PO Box 4444

Janesville, WI 53547-4444

You may also bring your completed application to a VA regional office near you, or you can apply on the VA website. A trained representative can help you file a claim, too.

Don’t Give Up If Your Claim is Denied

If your VA disability claim is denied, it can be disappointing, but don’t be discouraged. Denied claims are common; a claim can be denied due to lack of evidence, a missed deadline, or a missed medical exam assigned by the VA.

You can appeal a denied VA disability claim within one year from the date on your decision letter. These are the three appeal options you can choose from:

  • Supplemental Claim, in which the VA reviews new evidence that you provide
  • Higher-Level Review, in which a senior reviewer looks at your case and makes a decision
  • Board Appeal, in which a Veterans Law Judge at the Board of Veterans’ Appeals reviews your case and makes a decision

Each of these three options takes time and requires more paperwork, as well as further documentation, in some cases.

Seek Help from a Qualified Attorney

You don’t legally require an attorney to win a VA disability claim or to file an appeal, but it can help you get a decision in your favor. A veterans disability attorney experienced in the process can ensure your initial claim has strong evidence of your condition. They can also help you meet your deadlines and choose how to proceed should you need to file an appeal.

The Law Offices of Michael Hartup is dedicated to helping veterans in Tennessee. We’re ready to help you file your disability claim so you can receive the compensation you deserve.

Schedule a free consultation with an attorney on our team by calling 731-424-5559, or by filling out an online form. You may also learn more about VA disability benefits by liking our Facebook page.

The Benefits of Working With a Law Firm When Filing a Disability Claim

If you are disabled, you may be eligible for disability benefits through the Social Security Administration (SSA) or the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Unfortunately, the process to file a claim and actually get the benefits you’re entitled to is complicated, and many claims are initially denied due to simple errors. Between overwhelming paperwork and a confusing claims process, many people decide it’s not worth the hassle to file for disability. 

At The Law Offices of Michael Hartup, we understand how intimidating it can be to file a disability claim. We’re committed to helping Tennessee residents get the benefits they deserve. When you work with our office, we’ll walk you through every step from the initial claim to an appeal (if necessary). Working with us can make the entire process far less stressful. To learn more, contact us online or call our Jackson, Tennessee, office at (731) 424-5559. 

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How Rating Specialists Interpret Examination Reports

When you apply for veterans disability benefits, your claim is evaluated to determine whether you meet the eligibility requirements. The individuals who perform these evaluations are called rating specialists. If your claim has been denied, you may wonder why. Understanding how rating specialists interpret examination records can help you know how to proceed with your appeal.

At The Law Offices of Michael Hartup, we know that applying for VA disability can be a complicated and frustrating process. Our team has helped many Tennessee residents successfully apply for VA disability benefits or go through the appeals process. If you aren’t sure of the next step to take when pursuing disability benefits, contact us online or call our Jackson, Tennessee, office at (731) 513-5282. 

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What Mental Disorders Are Covered by SSDI?

Mental illness affects millions of people in the United States. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 20.6 percent of American adults dealt with mental illness in 2019. About five percent of U.S. adults experienced severe mental illness in the same year. Many individuals with mental illness find it difficult to be successful at work and to maintain healthy, fulfilling relationships. 

At The Law Offices of Michael Hartup, we have years of experience helping Tennessee residents and their families apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. If you have a mental illness, we can help you understand whether it qualifies for SSDI payments. We’ll also walk you through the application (or appeal) process if needed.

Call our office in Jackson at 731-513-5282 or fill out our online form to schedule a consultation.

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How to Apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program is designed to provide financial benefits to people who cannot work due to a disability. These payments can be vitally important to individuals who are unable to continue in their careers or find new work due to a disability. 

The Social Security Administration (SSA) clearly defines the eligibility requirements for SSDI, but it’s not always easy for qualified applicants to get the benefits they deserve. Many eligible individuals have their initial claim denied because the process is complicated and overwhelming. 

At The Law Offices of Michael Hartup, we know that disabled Tennessee residents rely on SSDI benefits. If you can’t work due to a disability, you may be eligible for SSDI payments. We are here to simplify the application process, and we can help you appeal the decision if your claim gets denied. 

To schedule a consultation with our team of experienced disability claims attorneys, call our Jackson, Tennessee, office at (731) 513-5275. You can also use our online contact form.

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How to Apply for Veterans Disability

Many United States military veterans have injuries or diseases caused or aggravated by their time in service. Statistics from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs show that in 2018, there were over 4.75 million veterans with service-connected disabilities. In fact, the number of disabled veterans has increased dramatically since 1990 even though the total number of veterans has decreased over the same time period. The VA provides benefits to disabled veterans who can prove that their disability was caused or worsened by their military service.

If you think you may be entitled to benefits from a disability caused by your time in the military, the first step is to apply for benefits. If you’ve already applied and had your claim rejected, you can initiate an appeal. In many cases, claims are rejected due to application errors or missing documentation, not the applicant’s ineligibility. Applying for VA disability benefits is often challenging and frustrating, but an experienced disability attorney can simplify and expedite the process. 

At The Law Offices of Michael Hartup, we have helped many Tennessee veterans get the benefits they deserve. Our team can explain the eligibility requirements, collect and submit all the paperwork, and work through the appeals process, if necessary. To schedule a consultation, contact our Jackson, Tennessee, office at (731) 424-5559. You can also use our online contact form.

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What Back Conditions Qualify for Disability?

According to the Centers for Disease Control, at least a quarter of all adults reported having lower back pain in the last three months. While there are numerous causes of back pain, the results are the same in many cases. Back conditions often prevent people from working and cause financial hardships for them and their families.

If you have back pain that affects your ability to work, you may qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. However, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has strict requirements for medical conditions, and not all back issues fall into one of those categories. Even if your condition does meet the requirements, your claim may be denied due to errors in the application or insufficient medical records.

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