Disability Fakers Caught In Act?

Denise "Dee" Henderson talks during an interview at a park near her home in Woodbury, Minn., Friday, Aug. 29, 2003. Henderson is being sued by federal authorities over $190,000 in Social Security disability benefits. Henderson, 43, who has won several beauty pageants, is accused of falsely claiming she was disabled by a 1995 auto accident. AP

In the pageant world, she was a title winner: confident, poised and according to the federal government, a cheat.

Dee Henderson has collected nearly $200,000 in government disability benefits.

She claimed to be so injured in a car accident that she can't sit very long, read mail or lift a gallon of milk.

All the while, as CBS News Correspondent Sharyl Attkisson reports, Henderson was competing in the grueling pageant circuit.

It's one high profile example of what Congress suspects is rampant fraud in the government's Social Security disability programs. By one estimate, 10 percent of long-term disability claims are fraudulent. That could mean $10 billion in tax money wasted every year.

An undercover videotape obtained by CBS News shows a man struggling to walk with a cane. He says back pain makes it hard for him to sit, stand or walk. But later, Social Security disability investigators videotape him with the cane tucked under his arm doing heavy lifting, loading and pulling.

Then there's the wrestler who claimed his back problems were so bad he couldn't work or even carry on day-to-day living. Amazingly, a few rounds in the wrestling ring seemed to be no problem.

Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, who heads the Finance Committee, is now asking the Social Security Administration Inspector General to audit the government's disability programs, focusing on fraud.

By the way, that beauty pageant contestant says she didn't lie. Henderson claims she suffers from a number of ailments including carpal tunnel syndrome, fibromyalgia and herniated discs.

"I have chronic pain and it comes and it goes," says Henderson.

But the government's now filed a beauty of a lawsuit trying to get her to pay back the $200,000, plus double that amount in damages.
  • Jaime Holguin

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