Month: August 2010

Dude, Where’s My Disability Check?

It is amazing what you can do in plain sight in terms of getting film on Southern California beaches. The subjects who file for disability and then head to the ocean to engage in recreation inconsistent with their claimed injuries do not seem to react to camcorders in their vicinity. Perhaps it is the other tourists on the beach taking film to show friends back in snowbound Iowa that provides the camouflage.

In this instance, the subject, if he noticed at all, may have had dreams of being discovered by the movie industry and coming off disability to a starring role. This guy looked so good after two years of being off work, it seemed impossible that anyone had interviewed him as the payments went on and on.

The subject obviously considered himself completely safe from scrutiny after two years. Our first surveillance resulted in excellent film of more than an hour ’s worth of cleaning the home garage, complete with bending, lifting and sweeping. A good start.

Coming back on the weekend, I found him on his way to the beach with a surfboard on top of the car. The weather had been warm so fortunately I was dressed for the beach – shorts, Hawaiian shirt and flip flops. I found a good spot on the beach, set down a towel and proceeded to film the ocean while our subject got ready to surf. Once he was out on the waves, he was completely oblivious to me and the film was perfect.

He finally came out of the water and I thought I was done. Good thing I didn’t leave because he headed directly for the sand volleyball courts and within minutes, he was diving into the sand to save points, leaping above the net to spike, and generally making the activity of surfing appear to be restful.

I was well and truly sunburned by the time he packed it up. But I had some great film, and this guy’s claim was toast. Ultimately the film was turned over to the DOI for prosecution.

The appearance of vibrant good health, a great tan and physical evidence of membership in a well-equipped gym do not normally appear in lists of red flags, but perhaps an addendum would be in order.

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