Today is the third of the month. The U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) deposited $1,288 in my bank account on this date by direct deposit as it does each month. I receive money from the SSA in satisfaction of a disability claim that is based on the determination that I am not suitable for employment. The SSA determined that I became disabled and entitled to benefits effective October 29, 1991, the date my employment was terminated by the D.C. law firm of Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld. Do I feel guilty about defrauding the federal government?
The short answer is yes and no.
Yes, I feel guilty about accepting a sizable sum of money from the U.S. Social Security Administration by reason of a fake disability. An incident that occurred back in about 1981 while I worked as a law clerk at the firm of Sagot & Jennings comes to mind frequently. At that time I worked for an attorney named Stephen F. Ritner, Esq. Ritner had a client whose claim for Social Security disability benefits had been denied. The claimant had appealed. The administrative law judge had ruled against him and he never received benefits. Ritner was incensed. He said the client was clearly disabled. I vaguely recall that the client had a lung disease. So there was a man who had an actual illness but the Social Security Administration refused to classify him as disabled. I think of the many people who have real illnesses whose disability claims are denied. And here I am, a fake mental patient, and I will receive -- when all is said and done -- about a half million dollars in disability benefits and Medicare/Medicaid benefits.
But then I think about the following: I have never deliberately misled anyone. I advised Social Security of all material facts adverse to my claim. I simply told Social Security the facts of my case -- I presented the facts of my situation, namely, facts about my mental state and the determinations of third parties.
-- I did not, as the manager of a major law firm -- in total disregard of my duty as a licensed attorney to engage in honest dealings -- file false sworn statements with a state agency alleging that I was paranoid, potentially violent, and not fit for employment by reason of business necessity
-- I did not, as a state supreme court judge, rule in favor of a party who had foisted on the court legally-irrelevant evidence that supported the view that I had been determined by a psychiatrist to be mentally ill and, by implication, not fit for employment
-- I did not, as a licensed physician -- in total disregard of my duty as a licensed physician to engage in honest dealings -- file a false written statement with the D.C. Board of Medicine alleging that I suffered from paranoid schizophrenia and depict myself as a deluded psychotic
-- I did not, as a federal law enforcement officer -- in violation of the laws and Constitution of the United States -- forbid an individual to attend a house of worship on the baseless assumption that I was potentially violent
-- I did not, as a psychiatry resident -- in violation of my duties as a licensed physician -- prepare a written statement declaring that I suffered from paranoid schizophrenia knowing that such a declaration was false and might mislead the U.S. Social Security Administration to conclude that my illness was far more severe than it actually was
-- I did not, as U.S. Attorney, fail to investigate probative circumstantial evidence that my Social Security disability claim was fraudulent
-- I did not, as a federal law enforcement agency, fail to investigate since the year 1994 probative circumstantial evidence that my Social Security disability claim was fraudulent
-- I did not, as a federal law enforcement officer, refuse to inquire into an express admission by a Social Security disability claimant that his disability claim was fraudulent
In the end, my feelings of guilt about accepting money from the federal government are mitigated -- perhaps, negated -- by the false dealings, judicial caprice, incompetence, and blind adherence to bureaucratic protocol of many others.