NY Man Charged with Abusing Worker’s Comp Benefits

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Worker’s compensation is intended to provide recourse for employees injured on the job so they don’t have to pay out of pocket for medical injuries while missing work. However, as with many laws, there are people who seek to abuse and exploit the rights afforded hard-working people.

A New York man, Richard Klaffka, has been charged by criminal complaint with receiving benefits from the Veterans Administration and Worker’s Compensation under false pretenses. Specifically, he’s been accused of fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud and making false statements. He faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

According to the Assistant U.S. Attorney General John Rogowski, Klaffka began making up stories in 2008. Klaffka told the Veteran’s Association that due to injuries he suffered in the military in 1978, he was confined to a wheelchair and unable to do everyday things like bathing, clothing himself and driving.

At the time, he was already receiving benefits, but was looking for more. His initial request was denied, but a successful appeal granted him the extra benefits and was made retroactive, giving him a lump sum payment.

In order to get workers comp benefits from the U.S. Postal Service, Klaffka alleged that he could not walk without the assistance of a cane and could not lift more than five pounds, due to a work injury.

What Klaffka failed to realize is that the United States government doesn’t take these claims lightly, and you could be investigated. In 2013, Klaffka was observed driving to the Veteran’s Administration Hospital, where he was seen lifting a wheelchair from his vehicle. He then sat in the wheelchair and his wife pushed him into the hospital. When the hospital appointment concluded, his wife wheeled him back to the car, he got up, put the wheelchair back in the car and then drove away.

If that wasn’t enough, Klaffka was also seen by investigators playing horseshoes for consecutive hours and then riding a bike. He was also observed on a cruise “engaging in a wide variety of activities not consistent with being confined to a wheelchair or otherwise limited activity,” according to the complaint.

Klaffka was receiving over $9,000 in tax-free benefits every month from both the Veteran’s Association and Workers Compensation because of his false claim.

While workers compensation is a right afforded to all U.S. workers, it is not a system which is to be abused. If you think you have a legitimate workers comp claim, you should speak with the highly qualified attorneys at The Wilton Law Firm.

The attorneys at The Wilton Law Firm have more than 20 years of experience and have won millions of dollars defending the rights of workers. If you have been injured at work, contact us today for a free consultation. Call 732-333-3168.