Crazy Attempts to Collect Disability Payments

Apr 07, 2011
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Times are tough, so tough that people are willing to do all kinds of things in order to collect Social Security payments or some kind of disability. Here are a few of the most recent, most desperate attempts to collect money.

Grandma Steals for Grandchildren


A 67-year-old woman from Detroit had paid someone to pose as her son for 20 years while her real son was in prison, so she could keep receiving his disability benefits. All in all, she stole $120,000 from Social Security. Detroit Free Press reported that a judge decided not to imprison Mary Alice Austin because she used the money to pay for the care of her five grandchildren. Austin told the judge she also has a mentally ill son in an institution to look after. She admitted that she made a bad choice, but desperation to care for her grandchildren drove her to it. The judge ordered Austin to pay $119,000 in restitution and serve four months in home confinement on a tether instead of prison.

Man Steals Dead Cousin’s ID to Collect Social Security

Meanwhile, a man from Peekskill, New York, is facing multiple felony charges due to his attempts to steal the identity of his dead cousin, so he could collect his cousin’s Social Security Disability payments.The Journal News reported that the New York State Police, the U.S. Social Security Administration’s Inspector General’s Office and the state Department of Motor Vehicles’ Investigation Unit all investigated 48-year-old Raymond Pompey. He passed himself off at the Social Security Administration and at the DMV as his recently deceased cousin. He had already gotten his Maryland’s driver’s license under his cousin’s name.  Pompey did all of this is an attempt to collect his cousin’s benefits.

Cop Stabs Self to Collect Disability

Also in New York, a man who was a former Johnson City police offer was convicted of charges related to stabbing himself in order to collect disability benefits. PropertyCasualty360 reported that 34-year-old Matthew Romano made up a story about two unknown men assaulting him while he was on patrol in 2006. He managed to get 75% of his salary, completely tax free, with the additional cost of living increases. He was to collect the money for the rest of his life based on claims of psychological trauma due to the stabbing attack which prevented him from returning to work. A jury found Romano guilty on 17 counts of fraud. He was ordered to pay $91,234.49 in restitution.

And then . . . there’s Charlie Sheen

TheNewsFactory discussed whether Charlie Sheen, if unable to work, can collect disability benefits for substance abuse or bi-polar disorder. “As long as Sheen has medical support from his treating physician that a substance abuse disorder or other psychiatric condition prevents him from working with reasonable continuity, then it’s possible for him to file a disability claim.” If, however, Sheen becomes sober and is released from a substance abuse rehab facility or psychiatric hospital, most disability insurance companies would stop paying benefits.

Image Credit: Zol87

Author: Tessa



  • http://disabilityexplained.org/ Amanda Athey

    It’s incredible what people will do to keep from working at a real job. I kind of understand about the grandmother with a son in prison, but the policeman that stabbed himself, and the identity thief. Seriously, it would be easier to just go to work.

    For this to work out for Charlie Sheen, he would first have to go to an authorized rehab facility, I doubt that his house counts. Besides, Sheen is still working with his touring and bringing his madness right to the people in a theaters across the country.

    disability benefits explained

  • Tanya

    Some people are sensitive to the word “crazy”. It can be hurtful, especially when someone who is a proponent of disabilities leaves emotional or mental illness “out” of the disability circle of trust. It makes sense if you think of how it feels when someone mistakenly says, “that was a lame idea” or “the plan was crippled”.