The big, big, big Social Security news this past week was of a massive alleged fraud scheme in Puerto Rico. 68 people arrested already, with more to come. A former Social Security worker as the ring leader, with doctors and fake claimants apparently also on the take.
White collar crime to beat the band.
Though the reporting is somewhat murky, it appears that Social Security’s Office of Inspector General, and the FBI have been investigating this ring since 2009 – comprehending the scope of the alleged scheme, and gathering evidence towards a well-muscled prosecution. Book ’em, Danno!
In response, Representative Sam Johnson, Texas Republican and Chairman of the Social Security Subcommittee of House Ways and Means said, “I was outraged to learn of the unprecedented and widespread disability fraud arrests in Puerto Rico. That such fraud could occur in the first place raises serious and troubling questions regarding Social Security’s management of the disability program. Clearly this isn’t a case of just a few bad apples.”
Wait … what? This is Social Security’s mismanagement? I get the bad apples part, but Social Security’s mismanagement?
In 2011, an 11-year-old victim who suffered repeated sexual assaults, was accused by criminal defense attorney Steve Taylor, of being a seductress luring men to their doom. “Like the spider and the fly. Wasn’t she saying, ‘Come into my parlor, said the spider to the fly?’ ” he asked a witness.
Social Security, you seductive little spider waving benefits before white-collar criminals … luring them to their doom.
Sam Johnson’s statement “that such fraud could occur in the first place raises serious and troubling questions regarding Social Security’s management of the disability program” takes aim at the wrong target: Social Security. And, it fails to appreciate that it was Social Security’s Office of Inspector General that ferreted out the alleged scheme.
But …well looky here … It’s worth doing your own fact-checking. Although the Associated Press articles I read did not give Sam Johnson’s full statement, it is available on the House Ways and Means page on the interwebz. In it, he goes on to say, “The bottom line is that this fraud hurts those who are truly deserving of these vital benefits and undermines the public’s trust. I commend the U.S. Attorney, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General, and the Puerto Rico Police Department for bringing this fraud to light.”
Oh, that’s cool. Never mind. I really couldn’t agree more with that part of Rep. Johnson’s statement. It’s important to read the whole statement … and not trust that the press won’t print only the part that suggests conflict where it doesn’t necessarily exist.
The Social Security Subcommittee will hold hearings in September 2013, “as part of its effort to get to the bottom of how this fraud occurred,” Rep. Johnson said. I do so hope that in those hearings Social Security is given ample credit for the fact that according to U.S. Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodriguez, “there has never been a case like this in the history of the Social Security Administration.” But that when there was, it was found out by the Social Security Administration itself.
Moreover, I do so hope that Social Security does not, in response to this alleged scheme, issue rules that tighten eligibility standards for “those who are truly deserving of these benefits” – as Rep. Johnson refers to them.
Indeed, this event should be taken as testament to Social Security’s apt management of the disability programs … even as they are busy seductively wooing flies to their parlor.