When workers are unable to work due to a debilitating illness or disease, they may be left without a way to earn a living. For workers who have long-term disability insurance through their job, disability benefits will enable them to take care of themselves and their families during the time they are disabled. Individual's without insurance may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits.
Unfortunately, the problem of disability fraud impacts people with legitimate disabilities, as well as those trying to take advantage of the system. When prosecutors go after disability fraud, they may end up forcing innocent people to lose their disability benefits. A number of former city workers have sued a district attorney for malicious prosecution after losing their disability benefits.
Four former New York City and Nassau County Police Department officers have filed malicious prosecution lawsuits against the Manhattan District Attorney. The former officers allege the prosecutor was so caught up in going after disability fraud, that the four officers were accused of fraud and lost their disability benefits. The officers claimed that any investigation would have have shown they were not involved in the fraud.
In 2014, Manhattan DA Cy Vance's office went after over 100 former city workers, including 80 New York Police and Fire Department employees for disability fraud. According to authorities, over 100 individuals had been involved in trying to defraud the public through fake Social Security insurance claims. The allegations included charges of faking mental illness related to the 9/11-attacks.
However, the DA eventually dropped fraud charges against four individuals, including former NYPD officer Darlene Ilchert. Ilchert had retired in 2000, and was receiving disability benefits as she was unable to work. However, as a result of the criminal charges, Ilchert lost her disability benefits and her legal defense added up to hundreds of thousands in legal fees.
According to Ilchert's lawsuit, Vance's office was so caught-up in the publicity of the large fraud ring that they, “knowingly and willfully ignored and overlooked the actual innocence of the Mrs. Ilchert.”
Three other former police officers found themselves in a similar situation. Philip Blessinger, Scott Greco, and John Byrne were all charged with grand larceny and criminal facilitation. The DA's office dropped the charges but had the former cops sign a waiver limiting the DA's liability in order to release their frozen assets.
According to their lawsuit, “had any proper investigation been conducted, plaintiffs would never have been indicted.” Instead, the three were improperly associated with the “bad apples.”
Criminal charges for disability fraud could result in lost benefits, even if prosecutors later drop the charges. This may leave an innocent, disabled individual without any benefits. If your disability benefits have been denied or discontinued for any reason, talk to an experienced attorney about your rights.
Greg Paul has years of experience fighting for his clients to make sure they get the disability benefits they deserve. We represent individuals and families who have been denied benefits by their insurance company or plan administrator. You have a limited time to appeal your disability denial, so do not delay. If you have been denied short-term or long-term disability benefits, contact our office for a free consultation.