Does the VA Spy on Veterans?
Once you file for a service-connected disability with the Veteran’s Administration (VA), there are several steps they must go through to confirm the validity of your claim. Once your application is registered, the VA will review your evidence and decide, a process that takes on average about three months.
During the initial review, it is unlikely that the VA will send an investigator to confirm the validity of your claims. However, if the VA suspects that your claim is fraudulent or exaggerated your request, the organization may send investigators to confirm your disability.
In some cases, the VA may require you to undergo a reexamination after a certain period, especially if the service-connected disability you claim is one that could improve over time. Usually, this reexamination is scheduled two to five years after your initial diagnosis.
If a reexamination reveals that your condition is improved this might affect your benefits. These could be reduced or stopped completely depending on your health. However, there are circumstances where the VA does not require reexamination. These include:
- Assignment of the minimum rating for the disability
- Combined disability ratings
- A disease of a permanent nature
- A static disability such as loss of limb
- Over the age of 55
Investigations and Surveillance
VA will often work in conjunction with the Social Security Administration to investigate reports of false disability claims. This is because many veterans who file for VA disability also qualify for Social Security disability. However, an investigation might be set off when a doctor or other official finds that a veteran may be falsely claiming they are disabled.
In one case, undercover agents and surveillance strategies found that a veteran had wrongfully received $1.5 million by claiming his multiple sclerosis was more severe than it actually was. In another, surveillance discovered that one veteran who claimed to be almost completely blind not only held a valid driver’s license but caught her driving a car with no problems. The veteran was required to repay about $400,000 in veteran benefits.
Type of Surveillance Used
There are many ways that the VA and other agencies conduct surveillance when they believe someone is falsely claiming benefits. Although the VA may be able to require an examination, if someone falls under the criteria noted above, they may not be able to do so. In that case, when they receive a report that a veteran is committing fraud, they will use other methods.
Undercover agents may watch the veteran suspected of fraud, taking photographs and video of them doing things they claim they could not. Because the Office of Investigations through the VA has agents with the same arrest and investigation authorizations as a police agency, they can also obtain photographs or video from banks, retail stores, and other locations.
They may also subpoena family photographs or videos and obtain social media posts that may indicate someone is not as disabled as they claim.
What Happens if Fraud is Discovered?
If the VA investigators discover that someone has fraudulently claimed a disability or exaggerated the severity of a disability, they can issue an arrest warrant. If the person is convicted, they could face fines and imprisonment. Besides, they may be required to repay all benefits received under the fraudulent claim.
If you believe that you are under investigation by the VA for a fraudulent claim, contact a lawyer who is specialized in this domain. You can arrange for a no-obligation consultation by filling out the easy online form or by calling us today. We will work with you through the entire process and help you maintain your rights under the law.