Sentenced for Disability Fraud

2015-0724 Disability Fraud

When I saw the Associated Press story, many thoughts raced through my mind. I am not an attorney or judge, but I definitely have questions about the story and I think you will too.


An Oregon resident who transitioned to a woman more than three decades ago continued collecting Social Security disability checks under her male identity, fraudulently raking in $250,000.

Court records show Richelle McDonald was born Richard McDonald in 1945. In 1974, Richard claimed disability because he was unable to work after suffering a serious arm injury when hit by a San Francisco bus.

McDonald in the 1970’s also applied for a separate Social Security number under the name Richelle. She worked under that name from the early 1980’s until 2012 while continuing to collect disability payments as Richard.


I am not questioning whether or not fraud took place — I think it did. What I am questioning is why the government took approximately 32 years to discovery the fraud. My opinion is the government officials who allowed the fraud to continue for so long are accomplices to the crime and they should also be prosecuted.


Click here to read another Beyond Adversity post.

The background information is an excerpt of an article written by Associated Press. Thanks to Google for helping my find the article; and all other people who, directly or indirectly, made it possible for me to include the picture and text in this post.


  1. Scott I totally agree with you about a convict paying for his prison stay. They should add more to his/her fine when they are sentenced to recoup the tax dollars used to house them.

    1. However, I also believe that if a person was wrongly incarcerated, society owes that person something. I am not sure how to calculate the debt, but I have a very clear vision the debt is owed. Furthermore, if evidence was planted to obtain the conviction, the person or people who planted the evidence should be incarcerated for at least as long as the wrong incarcerated person was.

      1. Scott I totally agree. There are several (police) states in the US like Idaho where this happens quite frequently. And there very little Federal presence in these states to keep this practice in check. So law enforcement in states like New Mexico, and expecially Idaho gets away with with it. The criminal justice system in these states uses people with mental illnesses and invisible disabilities to subsidize the system there (like the way African Americans were being used in Ferguson Mo). So they make up charges or trump up a arrest by adding more charges on too get a conviction.

      2. Matthew, I am not sure a Federal presence (oversight) would change anything. Theoretically, there is Federal and judicial oversight. I don’t know how to fix the problem, but I definitely know the problem is there and needs to be fixed. I believe the penalties are so small for the bad ones, they are simply not afraid of being caught. There are bad people in every group — police, judges, professional witnesses, doctors, lawyers, teachers, students, politicians, religious leaders, and people who claim they are religious. Many people demonstrate consistently they great role models. However, there are some really awful people in this world who abuse the power and authority.

  2. I feel all the money that was put in for the 32 years towards social security should be forfeited . At retirement he/she should only get a lesser amount as if disabled and collections should be taken to sell and reimburse the program of anything the person owned. Jail time should definitely be involved.

    1. Coni, I like your idea. All too often the criminal are allowed to keep most of their ill-gotten money, so they have a nest egg to rely on when they get out of prison. They are going to jail for a reason, they should not have our money when they get out. If our money has been spent, your solution still works. Repossess everything (cash, cars, boats, motor homes, and furniture until we are paid in full. In addition, I feel the criminal should repay society for the cost of incarceration. I see no reason to give the criminal fee housing. food, and clothing as a reward for stealing from us.

  3. There was no drastic name change, I can’t believe no one caught this! This angers me because I sometimes think that if tried harder, that I could be more productive. And then reality sets in and I realize my mind and body do not listen to each other…

    1. William, I don’t think your words have anything to do with a mind-body disconnect. The story irritates me too. If there were less fraud, theoretically there would be more money available for those of us who really need the help. Furthermore, it might be easier to apply if the government were less concerned about fraud. The real question in my mind is why don’t the execs do something to prevent fraud or at least catch it sooner than several decades.

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