Even the blind can drive in Greece
Some 36,000 disability allowances will be cut at the end of the month, following a national investigation into fraudulent claims
Some 36,000 disability allowances will be cut at the end of the month, following a national investigation into fraudulent claims, the government said.
Deputy Health Minister Markos Bolaris said the government would save 111 million euros in false claims following a census of some 240,000 benefit recipients.
"It's come to our attention that people who were receiving benefits for blindness were actually continuing to drive. So, when you think about it: these people were going to an eye doctor for their disability exam and then another eye doctor for their driving licence."
Health Minister Andreas Loverdos announced this week that during the second phase of the census, when the beneficiaries are examined by the Centre for Certifying Disability, the savings are expected to reach the 230 million euro mark.
The minister noted that 36,294 of the registered beneficiaries failed to present themselves for the census. More specifically, 203,998 beneficiaries presented themselves as opposed to 240,292 that received benefits. This meant that benefits spending would be reduced from 941,289,609 euros in 2011 to 830,650,500 euros in 2012, a saving of 110,639,109 euros.
Loverdos gave examples, noting that of 125,368 registered recipients for benefits of severe disability in 2011, only 108,200 turned up for the census and the remaining 17,168 are assumed to have been receiving the benefit illegally. Similarly, nearly half of those receiving benefits for unprotected minors failed to participate in the census.
Ministry officials said clusters of suspected fraud had been found, with blindness claims unusually high in Chios, Kavala, and Iraklio and other claims high in Halkida, Serres and Komotini.
The census was carried out between February 1st and March 16th this year, in order to create a nationwide register of benefit recipients and a map of the frequency of disabilities by area, both to check the benefits given and to preclude cases of people drawing benefits in two different areas.
Source: Athens News
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