Social Question

chyna's avatar

How do we stop this ripping off of our tax dollars?

Asked by chyna (34015 points ) April 9th, 2012

My ex-sister in law, her sister and her best friend worked for a chain grocery store in their 20’s. All three found a way to claim disability once they had worked there for about 10 to 12 years. Each claimed carpel tunnel and found a doctor to substantiate this. All three have been able to get pain pill prescriptions for at least 20 to 25 years and all three are hooked on these pain killers. My ex-SIL can’t even get out of bed now. She takes the pills and sleeps all the time. Now the friend is having a quadruple by pass surgery this week. I can’t help but thinking if it hadn’t been so easy for these women to collect disabililty insurance they would have been a contributing member of society and much healthier. Of course, I feel the doctor was to blame also for playing along with this. How do we as tax payers blow the whistle on this kind of assistance abuse?

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21 Answers

Charles's avatar

How do you (we) know they didn’t have Carpel Tunnel Syndrome?

chyna's avatar

The ex-SIL told me. At that time, 25 years ago, she was still married to my brother and was bragging about how she found a way to never work again.

jca's avatar

Not working for whatever reason is not an enviable position. The person who is collecting disability is more prone to depression, and at retirement age, will be receiving way less due to having earned way less.

It seems like it would be very hard or impossible to stop this kind of thing without hurting the people who have valid disability claims.

I also know people on disability, who are ripping off the system and could work if they wanted to. All the times I wake up early and deal with commute and hassle of working, I wouldn’t trade for being in their shoes. I don’t envy them and when people like them brag about not having to work, I don’t say anything. Let them think what they want. I don’t envy them a bit.

Charles's avatar

Even if it is true, there’s always 2% who screw the system. The alternatives of hard core enforcement or simply not having those benefits are more expensive than letting a couple percent get away with fraud. It’s a trade off.

Blackberry's avatar

It’s difficult to stop a juggernaut. People make money by making sure people take pills, some people abuse things no matter what it is, some people are lazy for various reasons etc.

john65pennington's avatar

I am considering applying for my disability. Upfront, let me say I have had four lower back surgeries that have left scar tissue on my muscles and lower spine. Surgery is not an option. I hate to fill out an application, after reading your question, for fear I will be catergorized as a slacker, too. I have put in my time of 44 years of working and now, standing and walking and bending is truly painful. My body is telling me its time to set the bucket down. I take pain medication and muscle relaxers, just to make it through the day. My doctors tell me that it only become past a chronic condition and to expect it. They have put me on a permanent disability for life.

Yes, there are con artists out there that rip the system off all the time. This also applies to some people living in housing projects, but not all people. There are no safeguards in place to keep the system clean and all of us are paying for it.

wundayatta's avatar

They thought they found a racket and they ended up giving themselves jail sentences. They have been under self-imposed lock and key in their own bedrooms or houses. It is very sad. Plus they are addicted to pain-killers. I think their lives sound like hell.

How do we stop this? As with any addiction, only education and support will do the trick. We need to educate people about the dangers of carpel tunnel and getting addicted to pain killers. We need to let people know there are alternatives. We need to educate people about the dangers of not having work to do. Having no purpose can lead to depression which can lead to an early death.

I don’t think they need any more punishment then they have already inflicted on themselves. I think we should offer to help them find a way off the drugs and into employment they can handle. Perhaps something artistic instead of typing. I think we, the taxpayers, buy our way out of this by offering them incentives to get healthy.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I’m with you. I know of a woman who took a similar track. From day one, you could tell she working on an angle. Nothing at the office was right. She was always hurting herself. Everything was the fault of the company. It was so obvious. She was just building up a file.
Turn on your TV to any low- brow daytime TV show. (Maury, Jerry etc.) and you will be inundated with “lawyers” willing to help you apply for the “benefits you deserve”. They will even help you find the right doctor. Of course they get a percentage (30%) of your benefit.

I figure if you are on full disability, the government (us) is paying for 40 hours per week of your time that should be used productively. For you to continue payment here’s what you must do to keep the money coming:
1) Pee in a cup upon request to show you are not abusing drugs
2) You must stay in shape. No more than 5 pounds per year weight gain.
3) You must take some online course or learn some skill during your 40 hours.
4) You must perform 2 hours per week of community service.
5) If you cannot perform the community service, you may not take a vacation in Florida or travel overseas. If you are healthy enough to walk around and get on that plane, you are healthy enough to get to the soup kitchen.
6) (Here’s a controversial one) – If you are on full disability, that means you cannot perform the duties of everyday activities. Therefore—- You may not have another child. Abortion of adoption are your only options or the payments stop.
I will think of more.
As more and more taxpayers get tired of paying for others self imposed problems it will come to this. We might as well start working on it with a combination carrot and stick approach.

chyna's avatar

@john65pennington There is a big difference in having a true disability and someone admitting they found a way to scam the system. This woman admitted to scamming. And now, her friend that scammed the system with her, is having quadruple by pass surgery after years of prescription drug abuse.
@wundayatta GA. They are indeed in their own prison now.

john65pennington's avatar

Chyna, thanks.

gondwanalon's avatar

The big problem here is that medical doctors tend to treat the symptoms and patients want quick easy fixes (a drug and or surgery). Doctors have very little time to spend with the patient and patients generally aren’t willing to put in the huge amount effort that physical therapy requires to treat repetitive stress injuries. Therefore the patients fall into a downward spiral of drugs and surgeries.

Bill1939's avatar

The answer is another question. How do we stop greed? Whenever an opportunity to get money arises, some people will take advantage of the source, and you can corporations are people in this instance. In Illinois, for example, prison guards, supported by their doctors, claimed carpal tunnel syndrome from turning keys on cell doors that resulted in more than $10 million in partial disability settlements. see http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/midwest/2012/03/22/240338.htm

ragingloli's avatar

Harsher penalties (revoking license) for doctors who knowingly support the fraud.

tom_g's avatar

meh. I’m much more concerned about regressive taxes than the occasional person finding a way to game the system.

GoldieAV16's avatar

What @tom_g said.

At some point the money it takes to stop ALL fraud encounters the law of diminishing returns, and you’re spending more money on investigating and enforcing than you are losing to the fraud. I don’t think it’s rampant, but it’s certainly wrong in even one case.

It sounds like the price they’re paying way offsets what they’ve supposedly gained. I think that is what prevents more people from the scam. That, and that most people are honest.

jca's avatar

It’s hard to believe that only carpal tunnel would make someone be considered 100% disabled. There would be no other job a person with carpal tunnel could perform?

chyna's avatar

@jca Exactly! And this person didn’t operate a cash register in the grocery store, she worked in the office. I have a friend who actually does have carpal tunnel from 25 years of scaling teeth as a dental hygienist. She went back to school at age 50 to become a nurse. Some people just have more work ethics than others. And some people prefer to play the system for what they can get. But as @ragingloli says, the doctors who are knowingly playing this game need to be stopped too.

jca's avatar

@chyna: What I’m saying is that I think they might be getting partial disability, but not 100%.

chyna's avatar

@jca Oh, I’m not sure of the percent. It’s apparently enough that she has never had to work again in over 20 years.

jca's avatar

Don’t envy her. Pity her.

Nullo's avatar

It sounds like they’re reaping what they’ve sown. It’s really rather poetic, in a grim sort of way: by falsely claiming disability, they have become disabled.

I like the idea of making people on government assistance work for it in some way, if they aren’t already employed. Like @LuckyGuy points out, they’re effectively being employed by the government. Even if it’s making them empty wastebaskets or fetch coffee.

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