Traumatic Fraud

30619689 - social security newspaper scrap on assorted money

The Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Disability Insurance Benefits Program provides monetary benefits to eligible individuals who have worked and paid taxes. (An individual must be deemed medically disabled and unable to work in order to receive monthly cash benefits). A Shreveport, Louisiana doctor committed Social Security Disability fraud when he neglected to inform the SSA that he had returned to work. Read on to find out how the Chief of Trauma at the Louisiana State University’s Health Sciences Center made tens of thousands of dollars each month from his employer, while also collecting Social Security Disability benefits.

By law, a claimant must prove to the SSA that they are disabled by providing medical and other evidence with their application. The Shreveport doctor was approved to receive Social Security Disability payments due to a serious disease that affected his bones. (However, the disease is now in remission. Good for him, but bad for the SSA because he didn’t reveal that information to the government agency in charge of cutting his monthly benefit checks.)

The doctor collected Social Security Disability benefits for more than nine years. Four years after he qualified for the disability benefits, today’s fraudster got a job as a surgeon with the University of California – Davis. (Note that his salary was about $22,000 a month on top of the government benefits he received. Yep, that’s the correct number of zeroes.) He just about doubled his salary when he left that position and went to work for his Shreveport employer, pulling down about $40,000 per month as Chief of Trauma. (He once again neglected to inform the SSA that he had returned to work and collected benefits he was not entitled to along with just under half a million dollars a year in salary.)

Over nine years, this Louisiana doctor illegally collected approximately $200,000 in disability payments. The 58-year-old Shreveport physician originally pleaded “not guilty” to Social Security fraud; however, after 10 hours of jury deliberation, he was found guilty on 21 counts. At sentencing, the physician faces up to ten years in jail, up to three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine for each count (or $5.25 million). (Ironically, the sentencing could be very traumatic for the trauma physician who supposedly thrives in difficult situations.)

Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on an article entitled, “Shreveport trauma surgeon convicted of stealing over $200,000 in Social Security benefits,” posted on on February 1, 2019.  

SHREVEPORT, La. (KNOE) – A Shreveport trauma surgeon was found guilty on Friday of stealing more than $200,000 in Social Security disability payments, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

58-year-old John R. Owings, Chief of Trauma at Louisiana State University – Health Sciences Center in Shreveport, was charged with 21 counts, including 20 counts of theft of government property and one count of concealing or failing to disclose an event affecting right to a government benefit. He was found guilty on all counts after 10 hours of jury deliberation.

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Larry Benson
Larry Benson is currently the Director of Strategic Alliances for Revenue Discovery and Recovery at LexisNexis Risk Solutions. In this role, Benson is responsible for developing partnerships for the tax and revenue and child support enforcement verticals. He focuses on embedded companies that have a need for third-party analytics to enhance their current offerings.