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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Playing the Fraud Card - The Boat Named Free Ride

In recent testimony before the US House of Representatives' Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, David C. Williams, Inspector General of the US Postal Service, reported widespread fraud in the system, and with an entourage of others, urged "significant reform" of the Federal Employees Compensation Act (FECA) Program. 

He said, "The Postal Service is the largest FECA participant, paying more than $1 billion in benefits and $60 million in administrative fees annually, creating a long-term liability of $12.6 billion. As of February 2011, the Postal Service had about 15,800 disabled employees. Over 8,700 were at least age 55, about 3,100 were at least age 65, and about 900 were between age 80 and 98. "

"...Since October 2008, we have removed 476 claimants based on disability fraud, recovered $83.5 million in medical and disability judgments, and halted significant future losses. In one investigation, a fraudulent claimant received $142,000 in benefits while she was working as a real estate agent, and we had pictures of her hiking and bungee jumping. She even bought a boat named “Free Ride.” Other investigations have found fraudulent claimants working as martial arts instructors, landscapers, hairdressers and mechanics."

What is really sad is that the plot is aways the same. When the budget needs to be balance, the target unfortunately becomes those who are compromised and limited in ability to defend themselves, the injured worker. There is always a bad sailor on the ship, but there is no need to have everyone walk the plank.  Agreed that the system is 95 years old and doesn't function efficiently, as is mirrored other jurisdictions. The fraud card is merely an excuse and not a remedy. Maybe it is time for a new approach entirely to help injured workers by resolving the medical delivery problems and creating a unified and universal Federal approach.