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January 11, 2001

Wisconsin woman ordered to repay state $52,182

The Washington State Department of Labor & Industries has ordered a 43-year-old Wisconsin woman to repay the state $52,182 after an investigation showed she continued to collect workers' compensation widow's benefits after she remarried.

Susan Marie Zander began collecting benefits in 1979 after her husband, David B. Zander, was fatally injured while working for Western Pacific Timber Co. in Enumclaw. She later relocated to Memphis, where in September 1986 she remarried. The couple divorced two-and-a-half years later.

L&I learned of Zander's marriage through an anonymous tip. Further investigation by the agency's fraud unit showed that Zander hid her marriage in Tennessee from the department by submitting false information about her marital status in order to continue collecting widow's benefits.

The order against Zander reflects the amount of money she collected illegally in workers' compensation benefits plus a 50 percent penalty.

The ability to cross-match data with other government and private agencies nationwide has greatly improved the department's ability to track down individuals who have moved out of Washington state and are receiving benefits illegally.

Labor & Industries manages the state's workers' compensation system. It provides coverage to more than 163,000 employers and 1.9 million workers. The agency is committed to eliminating fraud. Anyone who suspects fraudulent activity may report it anonymously online at fraud.lni.wa.gov, or by calling L&I's toll free-number, 1-888-811-5974.

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