I have received disability benefits for the past seven years. SSI allows me to pay my rent and other bills. Unfortunately, there are some common misconceptions about benefits. Often people think that disabled people are just using the system. Although fraud occurs, it is rare.
It is challenging to receive disability benefits in the first place. According to the Centers for Disease, 18.7% of people have a disability, with over 12% having a severe disorder. In contrast, only 5% of Americans receive Social Security benefits. Additionally, former Social Security Administration Commissioner Michael J. Astrue estimated that less than 1% of disability claims are fraudulent.
However, cases still occur. Recently a South Windsor, CT, man placed on temporary total disability but worked for JetBlue is accused of collecting disability payments illegally.
Michael McLeod, 35, of South Windsor, was arrested and charged on Wednesday with fraudulently earning $16,239.17 in Workers’ Compensation benefits while working as a correctional officer for the Connecticut Department of Correction.
McLeod was charged with one count of Benefits Fraud, one offense of Larceny in the First Degree, and one count of Defrauding a Public Community.
According to the arrest warrant, McLeod was injured on the job and placed on temporary complete disability. He was receiving state-funded benefits at the time to replace his lost wages. Authorities claimed that McLeod reportedly worked for JetBlue while getting worker’s compensation benefits.
Fraud, while rare, still affects people who depend on benefits to help them live. Disability benefits should be available and accessible to everybody who needs them.
Roach, Lonnie. “The Misperception of Social Security Disability Fraud.” Bemis, Roach & Reed, 6 June 2022, https://www.brrlaw.com/social-security-disability-fraud/.
Stewart, Doug. “Corrections Officer on Disability Worked for JetBlue, Collected Benefits.” FOX61, WTIC, 4 Jan. 2023, https://www.fox61.com/article/news/local/hartford-county/corrections-officer-on-disability-worked-for-jetblue/520-bb370be4-5c23-455d-bccb-b599fcb57809.