Former Missouri Dem Rep Pleads Guilty To Illegally Taking $58K In Disability Payments

Democratic Officeholder Fraudulently Took $58K In Federal Disability Payments – CNS

Raymond E. Salva, a former Democratic member of the Missouri House of Representatives, has pleaded guilty to illegally taking $58,816 in federal disability payments while he was working as a state legislator earning $30,000 a year, according to the Office of the Inspector General of the Social Security Administration.

.

In a plea agreement reached on June 26, Salva agreed to pay $58,816 in restitution to the Social Security Administration (SSA) but he also still faces sentencing, which could include imprisonment of 10 years without parole and a fine up to $250,000.

When Salva was indicted back in November 2012, the acting U.S. attorney for the Western District of Missouri, David Ketchmark, said: “An elected official who is entrusted to make the law must also follow the law. This kind of deceit and illegal double-dipping from the public coffers is nothing less than theft. Today’s indictment alleges that, while purportedly serving the public, he was actually stealing from the taxpayers and betraying the trust of the voters.”

Salva was approved for Social Security disability payments in February 2000, claiming that he had suffered a neck injury in a farm accident. However, in 2002 Salva was elected to the Missouri House of Representatives and he served there as Democratic legislator (District 51) from 2003 through 2010, earning $30,000 a year in compensation. All the while, he received monthly disability payments from the SSA.

In May 2003, about five months after he started working as a state representative, the SSA conducted a review to find out whether Salva was still eligible for disability payments. “As part of that review, Salva completed a form in which he affirmed that he was not able to return to work and that he had not done any work since being disabled,” reads a press release from the SSA’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG).

Nearly two years went by and Salva continued to get the disability payments every month. Then, in December 2004, the SSA discovered earnings posted to Salva’s record and sent him a letter inquiring about his work activity. “Salva responded that he had conferred with an SSA representative, who told him that public service would not affect his disability benefits,” reads the statement from the OIG. “Salva admitted today [June 26,2013] that this statement was false and that he did not confer with an SSA representative who told him that working as a legislator was in some way exempted.”

Salva continued to receive disability payments in 2005, 2006, 2007, and through February 2008. At that point, the SSA sent a letter to Salva notifying him of the over-payments, and then sent another letter billing him for the nearly $59,000 in over-payment. Salva did not leave the Missouri house of Representatives until December 2010.

Salva appealed the SSA’s over-payment claim to an administrative law judge. And on Jan. 3, 2011, he completed a new application for Social Security disability. He subsequently withdrew that application in February 2011. In April of that year the administrative law judge found Salva “at fault in causing the overpayment,” states the OIG release.

In June of this year, Salva entered his plea agreement with the U.S. attorney’s office for the Western District of Missouri.

Click HERE For Rest Of Story

.

$7.9B In Improper Social Security Payments Last Year… But The Sequester Will Destroy America

$7.9 Billion In Improper Social Security Payments In FY 2012 – CNS

The Social Security Administration (SSA) needs to focus on “program integrity,” a polite term for reducing fraud and payment errors, the agency’s inspector general told Congress last week.

.

Reducing improper payments is one of the challenges facing the next SSA commissioner, Patrick O’Carroll, Jr., the agency’s inspector general, told the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security on April 26.

In fiscal year 2012, the Social Security Administration reported $4.7 billion in improper payments in the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, a 9.2 percent improper payment rate. (SSI is funded by general tax revenues, not payroll taxes. It helps elderly, blind, and/or disabled people who are poor.)

SSA reported $3.2 billion in the Old-Age, Survivors’ and Disability Insurance (OASDI) program, a 0.4 percent improper payment rate. (OASDI, funded by payroll taxes, is what people generally refer to as “Social Security.”)

That’s a total of $7.9 billion, and it includes some underpayments as well as overpayments.

“SSA’s improper payments largely consist of those erroneously made to ineligible individuals,” O’Carroll said.

“Improper benefit payments occur for many reasons.” Fraud is one reason, he said. This includes beneficiaries who do not tell the agency about changes in their income, resources or living arrangements, which would change the amount Social Security pays them. O’Carroll also mentioned recipients’ “poor understanding of reporting responsibilities,” and administrative errors.

“For many years, my office has encouraged SSA to balance service initiatives, such as processing new claims, with stewardship responsibilities, such as conducting timely work and medical (disability reviews) and SSI redeterminations, to ensure that individuals remain disabled and eligible, and cease payments to those who do not.”

Soaring disability claims are a particular concern for the Social Security Administration.

In his opening statement, subcommittee Chair Rep. Sam Johnson (R-Texas) said application for disability benefits, triggered by the recession and the weak recovery, have never been higher: “Since 2010, the average number of people filing for disability benefits is just over 249,000 a month,” Johnson said. “At the same time the average number of new jobs created is almost 148,000 each month.”

O’Carroll told the panel he would like to see SSA perform more work-related “continuing disability reviews,” or CDRs, to make sure people collecting disability aren’t working on the side.

SSA estimates that every dollar spent on medical CDRs yields about $9 in SSA program savings over 10 years. Reducing the complexity of Social Security’s disability programs could also streamline operations and reduce millions of dollars in payment errors each year, O’Carroll said.

SSA said it conducted 443,233 medical disability reviews in FY2012, up from 345,000 in FY2011, but the disability review backlog still stands at 1.2 million.

SSA has set a goal of conducting 435,000 medical disability reviews in FY2013, based on the current level of funding. Beneficiaries with a high likelihood of medical improvement undergo a medical review; Beneficiaries with a lower likelihood of medical improvement are mailed a questionnaire, which may or may not trigger a medical review.

Reexamination or “redetermination” of SSI retirement benefits also is effective in reducing overpayments in the SSI program, O’Carroll said. Because SSI is a means-tested program, any change in recipients’ income, living arrangements, or marital status can affect eligibility or payment amount.

SSA reported that it saves $5 for every $1 spent on SSI redeterminations. SSA completed more than 2.4 million redeterminations in FY2011 and 2.6 million in FY2012, and it plans to conduct more than 2.6 million in FY2013. Not every SSI recipient undergoes a redetermination every year; SSA uses a statistical scoring model to identify which cases it will examine.

O’Carroll said his office has encouraged SSA to use data matching with other governmental agencies to detect improper payments. He said SSA also should use more non-governmental databases in doing the redeterminations.

SSA paid more than $800 billion in SSI and OASDI benefits to more than 60 million Americans in FY2012. It estimates that over the next 20 years, another 80 million individuals will retire and file for Social Security benefits.

The hearing was called to discuss the challenges facing the next Social Security commissioner. Michael J. Astrue’s six-year term expired on Jan. 19, 2013, and his successor — once President Obama nominates one – must be confirmed by the Senate.

.
Click HERE For Rest Of Story

.

Government Doled Out $10.3 Billion In Improper Unemployment Payments In 2012

Government Doled Out $10.3 Billion In Improper Unemployment Payments In 2012 – CNS

The Federal-State Unemployment Insurance program paid out $10.3 billion in benefits in 2012 to people who should not have received the money, according to the Department of Labor (DOL).

The data provided on the government website, paymentaccuracy.gov, shows those payments amount to 11.42 percent of all the unemployment insurance checks handed out – an increase from 11.36 percent in 2011 and in excess of the government’s “target” for overpayments of 9.66 percent.

The DOL states that most of the data reported on its paymentaccuracy website was for the federal government’s fiscal year, which runs from Sept. 30 to Oct. 1, but that some data may have come from calendar year tabulations, which is why the department “used the term fiscal reporting year to best describe the time period in which the most current information was reported.”

The data also show that improper unemployment insurance payments increased steadily between 2009 and 2012, from 10.3 percent to 12 percent, respectively.

That percentage dropped 0.6 percent between 2011 (12 percent) and 2012 (11.4 percent), according to the DOL, which consequently forecasts that improper payments will fall below 10 percent in 2013 and 2014.

As reported by CNSNews.com, statistics released by DOL show that of the $10.3 billion in improper payments, the states improperly paid more than $5 billion for the period July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2012. (See DOL spread sheet on states payments.xls)

The “program contents” portion of the website states that 70 percent of the $10.3 billion that was paid out in 2012 was done so through one of three scenarios: “individuals did not meet their active work search requirements, continued to claim UI benefits after they had returned to work, or were ineligible for benefits because they voluntarily quit their jobs or were discharged for misconduct.”

An estimated 2.85 percent of state and federal improper unemployment payments were the result of fraud, according to the DOL.

The government website states that unemployment “helps cushion the impact of economic downturns and brings economic stability to communities, states, and the nation by providing temporary income support for laid off workers.”

The website also promotes the government’s efforts to end this trend.

“The reduction of improper payments in the UI program is a top priority of the Department of Labor,” the website states.

And the government is spending more money to that end.

“In fiscal year 2012 the Department awarded $169.9 million in supplemental funding to 33 states for the prevention, detection, and recovery of improper UI benefit payments; improve state performance; address outdated Information Technology (IT) system infrastructures necessary to improve UI program integrity; and enable states to expand or implement Reemployment and Eligibility Assessment (REA) programs,” the website states.

Click HERE For Rest Of Story