Disability Fraud

Today I have yet another person with a full disability settlement (e.g. from Social Security) telling me that they are fully capable of working and pestering me to hire them.  The rub is that paying them any money would endanger their disability payments, so they ask me to pay the money to someone else (husband, child) or to pay them off books in cash.  Essentially, they are asking me to violate the law in order the help them violate the law.

Why would I take this risk?  Last year I had 21,000 people sign up on a mailing list looking for work.

Perhaps I am somehow an outlier because I hire so many older folks, but I get dozens of request like this a year.  You can't convince me that the disability system is not broken.


  1. mogden:

    If you turn them in, California will probably sue you for elder abuse.

  2. norse:

    An interesting perspective into how far away we are from free markets for labor. The food industry typically pays under the table and is largely based around honor systems, and don't get me started about how rewards are distributed vs contributions in large organizations (sticking to the letter of the law, but...)

    Ultimately, it's a flaw in the setup of employment laws and taxation - by creating a regulatory climate in which compliance is hard to determine and enforcement via arbitrary but harsh punishment, this outcome is inevitable in low resource situations. I'd love to see a country try to rationalize this by taxing ownership transfers exclusively, which of course would require ownership to be exclusively determined by centrally maintained registry... SF, of course.

  3. curmudgeon:

    There has been a significant incentive to engage in the black/cash/subrosa economy with assistance programs aimed at the lowest income quintile historically, but the recent CBO announcement of further inducements added by the ACA will certainly expand this further. "It is only 2M people off the tax rolls" but it will have a subsection of black economy built in. This is of course endemic in the construction industry, especially housing, among immigrants, as well as the server/waitperson class alluded to. Current gross estimates of the
    black economy in the US is in the 7-10% range with some state to state variance, eg Mississippi is at the high end. It will be interesting to see what estimates are in 10 years.

  4. Matthew Slyfield:

    Worse, threaten to sue him for discrimination for not hiring them and then turn around and arrest him for breaking the law that they sued him for not breaking. "Strange game, the only way to win is not to play."

  5. Matthew Slyfield:

    "You can't convinces me that the disability system is not broken."

    I don't feel like trying anyway.

  6. MingoV:

    The Social Security disability system unofficially lowered its standards almost three years ago to reduce unemployment numbers. Over one million people qualified as disabled. About two-thirds of them had just exhausted their unemployment benefits. Chronic back pain no longer is the commonest new disability. Mood disorders (depression and bipolar disorder) are number one. All of those are easy to fake or exaggerate.

  7. irandom419:

    Everyone on disability should be re-evaluated every 10 years. If you are on disability for cancer/back pain/kidney disease and it is no longer an issue, you should automatically be kicked off.

  8. johnson85:

    Where I live the majority of nannies seem to be people receiving disability. You have some that are trying to make it as a nanny, some who have spouses working that do the work to make it more affordable for them to stay home with their own kids, and many that are doing it to supplement their 'disability' checks. As far as I know it's all under the table.

  9. rmark:

    IIRC, Social Security is supposed to review disability claims every 7 years unless recovery is expected sooner. You are alowed to earn a pretty minimal income while disabled.

  10. rmark:

    I also suspect that in the current recession that people who are borderline disabled go ahead and file for disability after losing their job with an accomodating employer.

  11. H. Luken:

    I do not get disability, welfare, unemployment, food stamps nor any other guvamint handout. I have no insurance. I haven't two nickels to rub together. I just want out of LA and live among the trees and critters .

  12. stevewfromford:

    I had a whole church ask me last year to fake their names! I went to a local Hmong Church to recruit piece rate workers for my farm. Most of these people didn't speak English, appeared to be in reasonably good health and would likely have earned $20 to $25/hour picking berries for me over the summer, which I explained and the Pastor translated. Everybody was very smiley and nice and the first question out of the PASTORS!! mouth was if I could pay his wife under an assumed name so she could keep her disability! When I explained tht would be illegal and I couldn't do so he told me I was unlikely to find any willing to work as they wouldn't want to lose their bennies. $25 to $30/ hour and NONE would take a job!
    We've really screwed up this country when hard working immigrants like these CHOOSE to live on disability.