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Chester man sentenced for SSDI benefit fraud

Social Security disability benefits often require immense amounts of paperwork for qualification, and disabled individuals can wait weeks, if not months, before they start seeing their money arrive. Some applicants are even initially denied benefits and have to go through an appeals process.

However, one Delaware County man did not seem to care about their plight. Instead of considering all of the other SSDI applicants throughout the nation who actually need that financial assistance, the man decided to scam the system, according to court documents released early last week.

The 67-year-old was sentenced to five years of probation on April 25 during a sentencing hearing. He was convicted of converting more than $240,000 worth of Social Security disability benefits for his own use, disregarding the others who actually need that money. He has been ordered to pay that money back with interest and he will be required to serve the first 18 months of the probation under house arrest with a tracking anklet.

The man had pleaded guilty to the single count of conversion of government funds during an initial hearing in March 2011.

The man fraudulently obtained the benefits by falsifying documents when applying for the SSDI money. He failed to tell the administration that he was earning additional money under a false name with a different alias, according to documents, and he claimed that he couldn't work at all because of high blood pressure and a lower-leg injury. The SSDI benefits were paid from October 1995 to July 2010.

Police officers say the scheme unraveled when an official noticed that the man was carrying two different driver's licenses, one with his real name and the other with his alias.

Public defenders for the man argued that he had sought to obtain the extra money because of family financial hardship. His wife suffered a stroke in 2011 and she testified that he was the only person who could take care of her.

Prosecutors said that the man jeopardized the entire system by abusing his SSDI benefits.

Source: Philly.com, "Chester man gets probation in disability benefit scheme," Michael Hinkelman, April 25, 2012

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