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Complex laws for disability payments land ex-marine in prison

Published on July 2nd, 2014

A lot of times, people will tell you to talk to a skilled lawyer when dealing with things that could become complicated legal matters. Although some people shrug off this advice because they think that they do not need the help, sometimes this isn’t always the best idea.

Take for example a case out of California where a former Marine was sentenced to four months in prison because of information he submitted to the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Marine Corps. Though his legal issue comes from a different state, it can stand as an example to our Illinois readers about the importance of seeking help with complicated things like filing for disability benefits, especially because it could lead to a legal issue if a mistake is made.

For those of our Cook County readers who may not have heard about the story, the 34-year-old soldier was accused of defrauding the Marine Corps and the VA by submitting inaccurate rent receipts and collecting disability benefits while on active duty.

The problem with this last piece, as many may not know, is that “the law prohibits an active-duty service member from receiving VA disability payments.” If he did not talk to someone who is familiar with disability benefits and the laws that govern them, then it’s possible that he may not have known this when he was placed on active duty. Unfortunately, it’s because of this simple mistake that has led to not only a short prison sentence but an order to pay back more than $90,000 in restitution.

Though this man’s case stands as a cautionary tale to our readers, it’s very important to remember that not all errors regarding disability benefits will lead to criminal charges. That’s not to say that mistakes could not lead to repayment requests though or other legal issues that may not be easily sorted out without extensive legal knowledge. We hope this is what our readers will keep in mind so that you don’t find yourself facing similar circumstances down the road.

Source: The Los Angeles Times, “Ex-Marine officer gets prison term in disability, rent fraud scheme,” Tony Perry, July 1, 2014


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