Straining Credulity

Via Overlawyered, (a daily read for me and should be for you) I found the following:

A Boston firefighter who competed as a bodybuilder while on disability leave did not show up for work this morning despite being ordered back on the job by the fire commissioner.

Well, I can see that happening.

But, you say, to collect disability you have to have a physical exam that supports the diagnosis; in this case, it’s public record the disability was back pain:

He filed for a disability pension in April after Dr. John F. Mahoney concluded that he was "totally and permanently" disabled from a back injury. On May 3, just 15 days after the doctor decided Arroyo could no longer work, the firefighter competed in a national bodybuilding competition and finished eighth.

(emphasis mine)

For the record this is how the disabled applicant appeared in the event in question (a national competition in which he placed eighth):

Arroyo-1.jpg

Photo courtesy of the Boston Globe

Now, I’m just a dumb ER doc and not a Boston Neurologist, I don’t do disability physicals, but I examine patients every shift for back pain, and this physique would, to put it mildly, raise some red flags if the complaint was chronic back pain.  

It didn’t in this case:

"If someone is doing bodybuilding and doesn’t tell me, how the hell would I know?" said Mahoney when the Globe asked him Friday about Arroyo, a professional bodybuilder since 2003.

(there’s video at the link)

Read the articles; they’re some good writing and reporting.  There are disabled people in the world and a very small number of people who want to take advantage of any system, and disability is one of them.

 

It’ll be interesting to see how this comes out.


Comments

  1. He can’t bend over to tie his shoes, but he can lift the bar bells. Huh…….

  2. Jim in Texas says:

    If someone is doing bodybuilding and doesn’t tell me, how the hell would I know?”

    Oh please, The first time I met two guys working for me when I reported in to my duty station in California, there was no doubt in my mind these guys were body builders even though they never told me and I didn’t see then without their clothes on and they didn’t look as muscular as this guy does.

    Can any physician be that naïve? Or did I miss something?

  3. TheNewGuy says:

    there was no doubt in my mind these guys were body builders even though they never told me and I didn’t see then without their clothes on and they didn’t look as muscular as this guy does.

    Absolutely… there’s just something about that single-digit body fat that screams “athlete”…

    But maybe it’s just me.

  4. Just to be a contrarian, when I had a crushed disk and was in horrible pain for months, I was always able to ride my bicycle for miles. It was just about the only thing I could do without pain. And, no, I was not on disability.

  5. “If someone is doing bodybuilding and doesn’t tell me, how the hell would I know?” said Mahoney when the Globe asked him Friday about Arroyo, a professional bodybuilder since 2003.”

    Uh, ditto what Jim says. Even this guy’s dentist probably noticed the rippling muscles and protruding veins.

  6. Steve Lucas says:

    Just an outside point. Body builders bulk up and then diet down, loosing both body fat and a certain amount of muscle to reach a peak they can hold for somewhere between two hours and two days. They do not walk around looking like that all the time, but two weeks out from a competition this guy is going to be close.

    It is also important to note that with no body fat this person is going to be surprisingly weak, and have very bad blood chemistry. There are also a number of supplements that are commonly used that may have questionable side effects.

    Now I don’t buy the bad back and I also do not buy the doctor did not know story. I do think the guy found it difficult to both work and train and was looking for a paid way into the body building world.

    Steve Lucas

  7. It’s no wonder the insurance companies demand IME’s.

  8. anonymous says:

    What is even more concerning than the gall of the firefighter and the lameness of his physician is that the Boston Fire Dept. ordered him back to work. His ass should have been flame-broil fired.

  9. if you can be a working senator running for president while receiving ssd, then i’m sure the bodybuilder can as well.

  10. DR PEPPER says:

    YEAH, well im currently working as the army workers compensation clinic physician equivalent and i see this crap every day. it turns my gut to see this abuse, and its tuff for this e.r. doc not to say anything about it. the soldier is to have the benefit of the doubt in all cases, but this is just an example of the abuse we tax payers pay. to hell with this firefighter and thats tuff for this ex cop turned doc to say.

  11. “‘If someone is doing bodybuilding and doesn’t tell me, how the hell would I know?’ said Mahoney”

    Somebody should be investigating this doctor.

    Why is this not grounds for the fire fighter to be charged with something criminal? Is there more to the story?

  12. You can bench press and do curls with bad back. You cant do deadlifts and squats but again this guy only placed 8th (last place?) – maybe thats reason why!

Trackbacks

  1. [...] If you’re claiming benefits for “total and permanent” disability it’s probably best not to enter bodybuilding competitions [Boston Globe and more, firefighter Albert Arroyo] More: GruntDoc; [...]

  2. [...] started thinking about GruntDoc’s post (through Overlawyered.com) on the fireman who got put on “permanent disability” for a [...]