Friday, July 4, 2014

CFS, FM, and Fraud - How the Mythology of "Faking It" is Perpetuated in the Media

On January 29, 2014 CBS re-aired a segment on disability fraud. In this segment, reporter Steve Kroft characterized SSDI as a "secret welfare system" with its own "disability industrial complex," namely lawyers who charge a percentage of back disability payments to assist people with their applications.

There is no government program that does not suffer from fraud, all the way from social security benefits, disability, and food stamps, to multi-million dollar grants given to researchers at prestigious universities who fake test results.

Fraud is simply a fact of life. But for some reason, it is only the programs that offer assistance to people who are impoverished, ill, disabled, or elderly that are "ravaged by waste and fraud."

How exactly do disability applicants defraud the government? According to Jenna Fliszar, attorney at Binder & Binder, the largest disability firm in the country, applicants claim to be disabled by illnesses that are "subjective."
Jenna Fliszar: Many of the cases they [Binder & Binder] handled involved ailments with subjective symptoms like backache, depression and fibromyalgia, which is joint and muscle pain along with chronic fatigue. 
Steve Kroft: Hard to prove you've got it? 
Jenna Fliszar: Yes. And there's really no diagnostic testing for it. 
Steve Kroft: Hard to deny you don't have it. 
Jenna Fliszar: Correct.
Because Fliszar claims that half of her cases were not deserving of disability, and most of these were "subjective," the implication is that people with FM (and CFS) are not really disabled, and are committing fraud by applying for disability benefits.

The public has now heard the words "fibromyalgia," "chronic fatigue" and "fraud" linked together on national media - twice. Is it any wonder that people with FM and CFS are constantly accused of "faking it"?

You can view the segment here.

You can send a comment to CBS here.

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