When a worker is injured on the job, there may be times when he cannot return to his previous job or trade due to disability. For that reason, more than 60 years ago, government-supported workforce training programs were created to assist these workers in learning new skills. In California, this benefit is known as a Supplemental Job Displacement Benefit (SJDB) or voucher that can be awarded to injured workers as part of a settlement agreement. Although a helpful benefit, opportunities exist to abuse the system or engage in voucher fraud.
In 2020, a vocational school contacted ICW Group seeking payment of a $3,900 SJDB voucher for a prospective student (claimant) for enrollment in one of its apprenticeship programs. ICW Group requested a copy of the signed and dated voucher and other records to consider payment.
Despite never submitting all the requested records, the school continued to pursue ICW Group for payment of the voucher in 2022, citing the claimant hadn’t taken any courses yet. An ICW Group representative was reviewing the invoice for payment and identified in the claim file that the claimant had passed away before this latest payment request. Upon further investigation, the school told the ICW Group representative the claimant was still interested in taking the course and hadn’t done so because ICW Group hadn’t paid for the voucher. The matter was referred to the ICW Group Special Investigations Unit (SIU) for further investigation as it appeared the school was misrepresenting the facts to get paid for a service that had not been and would never be rendered by the decedent.
SIU worked with the California Department of Insurance in its criminal investigation into the school. The case is currently being reviewed by the District Attorney’s Office, pending criminal charges.