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Fraud, Rain or Shine

File with focus on the text Disability Insurance and blur effect. Concept of individual protection.
Senior Director of Strategic Alliances
LexisNexis Risk Solutions - Government

There are more risks to being a postman than a dog bite. In fact, statistics show that postal employees are twice as likely to be hurt on the job than the average worker. Which was a favorable statistic for Postmaster Pamela Van Syckle when she filed for disability in September of 2020. Qualifying for disability benefits is no easy feat since medical records must confirm significant limitations to basic work-related activities, such as lifting, standing, walking, sitting, or remembering – for at least 12 months. Not a problem for a fraudster.

Now Social Security disability status won’t make you a millionaire. On the contrary, disability benefits are typically only high enough to keep you above the line of poverty. From September 2020 to September of 2023, VanSyckle received over $150,000 in disability benefits from the federal government. But she was not heading to the poor house. Nor was she languishing on bed rest. VanSyckle was working as the owner and operator of an unidentified travel agency, where she handled sales, marketing and financial operations. All of which is big no no since VanSyckle had signed and filed multiple federal claim forms alleging that she had no other means of employment.

Amazingly enough, the disability fraud incidence rate in the US is lower than 1%. Such a low percentage results from the SSA’s zero-tolerance policy against fraudsters thanks largely to the Cooperative Disability Investigations Program. This department investigates questionable applications early (before granting benefits takes place). A whopping 63% of the SSDI applications get denied. Return to Sender.
However, VanSyckle was still able to scheme her way to disability fraud. After pleading guilty, VanSyckle now faces a maximum of five years in prison and a fine of as much as $250,000, Sellinger said. Her sentencing is scheduled for June 12, 2024.

Today’s Fraud of the Day is based on article “Morris Co. Postal Worker Admits Role In $156K Disability Fraud Scheme” published by The New Jersey Patch on February 1, 2024

A Morris County woman and U.S. Postal Service worker has admitted to making false statements after she collected disability benefits while secretly working another job, authorities said.

Pamela VanSyckle, 60, from Oak Ridge, pleaded guilty before a Newark federal court on Tuesday to one count of federal employee compensation fraud, according to a statement from U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger. According to authorities, in September 2020, VanSyckle, who worked for the U.S. Postal Service as a rural carrier, signed and filed a claim form alleging that she had sustained an injury at work.

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