Help for Those in Need 


(Fact - Based on Memory)


There are two things you learn about the U. S. government’s SSI and SSDI programs when you sit as a judge in the Probate and Family Court.  The first is that these programs are desperately needed by those who have a disability – ranging from quadriplegia to schizophrenia.  The second is that fraudulent use of these programs by the non-disabled is rampant. 

Time after time, litigants appearing before me who were required to pay child support would indicate that they had become disabled and were collecting SSDI.  This assertion, sworn to under the pains and penalties of perjury and supported by government documentation, is something that a judge must accept at face value absent evidence to the contrary. Most women receiving the child support cannot afford lawyers to assist them with their claims.  Some women, however, would hire private investigators to follow the fathers.  It was fairly common to see investigative reports and photographs showing “disabled” men on their feet 8 - 10 hours a day doing such things as giving haircuts at a barber shop, moving dirt and rocks with a wheel barrow at construction sites, picking up large items for a junk removal company.  

After one long trial, I gave custody of three children to their father.  At a follow up hearing, the father informed me that to his great surprise he had begun receiving SSI payments on behalf of his children.  The mother had each child certified as disabled and received SSI benefits for years. The father was extremely upset because there would now be a paper trail listing the children as disabled and he did not know if that might in some way impact them in the future.

The fraud undermines society’s trust.  It damages confidence in the integrity of medical profession since doctors certify disability.  It impacts funding, taking precious dollars from the truly disabled. And, in the end, it hurts the next generation, teaching them to profit from dishonesty.



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