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Continuing Disability Investigation Units | Social Security Disability

Social Security disability benefits provide an important lifeline for many people in Kentucky who are too disabled to work. While the Social Security disability program is essential to protect people who are legitimately disabled, there are unfortunately some instances of fraud. The Social Security Administration tries to aggressively fight this fraud, and Continuing Disability Investigation Units (CDIUs) are among the tools it uses.

CDIUs saved the Social Security Administration (SSA) more than $339.6 million in 2012, and the units play a very important role in helping to protect the program and ensure that Social Security disability benefits are there for those who deserve them.

However, no government agency or authority can be perfect all of the time, and no investigation is guaranteed to come up with the right results in every situation. This can mean that CDIUs sometimes target people with legitimate claims and real disabilities and can mistakenly view those disabled individuals as engaging in fraudulent behavior.

Disability fraud has real consequences, including criminal penalties. In a best-case scenario, if CDIU determines that someone is not legitimately disabled, their benefits would stop and they would no longer have the money they need. You do not want this to happen to you as a result of a misunderstanding, so it is very important that you understand what CDIUs are looking for to avoid inadvertent mistakes that could give the wrong impression of the level of your disability. A Kentucky Social Security disability attorney can help you to understand the investigation process.

The Role of CDIUs

The Continuing Disability Investigations Program was launched in 1998 and initially covered five states. Today, there are 25 units that cover 21 states and Puerto Rico. Kentucky is one of the states covered by the CDI program, and there are CDIUs working to identify people in Kentucky who are gaming the disability system.

In 2012, CDIUs investigated 4,707 cases. In the majority of cases, CDIUs found that the claimant was not actually entitled to the benefits being received. In fact, benefits stopped in 4,099 of the cases. This is a very high percentage, and it is possible that some of those who had their benefits stopped really were disabled and just got caught up in an investigation where what appeared to be evidence painted a picture that wasn’t accurate.

If you are dependent on disability benefits, it is important that you understand how the investigation process works so that you do not inadvertently give the wrong impression to investigators.

How Does the Investigation Work?

A disability investigation is normally triggered when the Department of Disability Services or the Social Security Administration reports potential fraud to the CDIU. The SSA’s Office of Disability Adjudication and Review, other law enforcement agencies, private citizens and anonymous sources also report potential fraud to the CDIU.

The CDIU reviews the information provided in the initial report of potential fraud to determine if there are grounds to pursue a further investigation. Some of the types of behaviors that could be reported as fraud and that could launch an investigation include:

  • Filing multiple applications for disability benefits.
  • Hiding the fact that a claimant is working.
  • Exaggerating a disability.
  • Lying about a medical condition.
  • Malingering (faking or exaggerating an illness or its effects).

If the CDIU believes that there is the potential for fraud in a situation, then the team leader assigned to the investigation will work with state and local law enforcement members. The investigation will normally involve:

  • Interviewing the person who is accused or suspected of fraud.
  • Interviewing third parties about a case.
  • Using video surveillance.
  • Reviewing information available on the Internet, including on social media websites such as Twitter and Facebook.

Being aware of these types of surveillance and investigation techniques is very important in order to understand the red flags that can point to fraud. For example, people routinely post the good things about their life on social media because they don’t want to seem as if they are sick, complaining or miserable all of the time. Attempts to cheer yourself up or look strong to friends and family by downplaying how badly you are suffering with your condition could backfire and make the CDIU believe that you are committing fraud even when you aren’t.

You need to be very careful not to give the wrong impression about your legitimate medical issues. While no one should ever exaggerate their symptoms to make their health problems seem worse, it is rare that people do this, and it is far more likely that a legitimately disabled person may be adversely affected by an investigation as a result of an innocent mistake.

Questions? Ask Our Kentucky SSD Lawyers.

If you are dependent on disability benefits for your income, it can be devastating to become the subject of an investigation into potential fraud. You need to do everything possible to protect your rights and to protect your legitimate claim to benefits. An experienced Kentucky Social Security disability lawyer at the Frank Jenkins Law Office can help you avoid mistakes that could cost you everything.

Our attorneys represent clients dealing with many different issues related to Social Security disability benefits. Give us a call today at 859-389-9344 or contact us using our online form for a free consultation and claim evaluation.