GAO: Social Security Disability Programs Susceptible to Physician-Assisted Fraud

“We keep putting people on disability who are not truly disabled,” Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), a medical doctor, told the House Oversight Committee this past June.

Three years before that, Coburn and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) expressed concern that Social Security disability benefits were being used as an extension of unemployment benefits.

Now, a new report from the Government Accountability Office says the Social Security Administration remains vulnerable to fraud, particularly when unscrupulous doctors submit false claims.

“While the full extent and nature of physician-assisted fraud is difficult to measure, each fraudulent claim allowed by SSA has the potential to cost the government several hundred thousand dollars over the life of the claimant and places an additional financial burden on these programs at a time when SSA estimates that its disability trust fund will be depleted and unable to pay full benefits to individuals starting in 2016,” the report said.

It added that any occurrence of fraud “has the the potential to undermine confidence in SSA’s ability to award benefits only to deserving individuals.”