Social Security Judge Accused of Running Disability Fraud Scheme

AP file, Patrick Semansky

WASHINGTON -- A retired Social Security judge in West Virginia collaborated with a lawyer to improperly award disability benefits to hundreds of applicants, according to a report released Monday by congressional investigators.

The report accuses retired administrative law Judge David B. Daugherty of scheming with lawyer Eric C. Conn to approve more than 1,800 cases from 2006 to 2010.

"By 2011, Mr. Conn and Judge Daugherty had collaborated on a scheme that enabled the judge to approve, in assembly-line fashion, hundreds of clients for disability benefits using manufactured medical evidence," said the report by the staff of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

Conn runs a law firm specializing in disability cases in Stanville, Ky., near the West Virginia border. Daugherty, who was a judge based in Huntington, W.Va., retired in 2011 after questions were raised about his relationship with Conn, the report said.

According to the report, the Social Security Administration paid Conn's firm more than $4.5 million in attorney fees from cases heard by Daugherty from 2006 to 2010. In 2010, Conn was the third highest-paid disability lawyer in the country, the report said.

Investigators reviewed Daugherty's bank records and found $96,000 in unexplained cash deposits, the report said.

"From 2003 to 2011, Judge Daugherty's bank records contain regularly occurring cash deposits totaling $69,800, the source of which is unexplained in the judge's financial disclosure forms," the report said. "From 2007 to 2011, his daughter's bank records list similar cash deposits totaling another $26,200. When asked about the $96,000 in cash deposits, Judge Daugherty refused to explain their origin or the source of the funds."

Neither Daugherty nor Conn could be reached for comment. Both men were scheduled to testify Monday at a committee hearing.

Questions about Daugherty's relationship with Conn were first raised by The Wall Street Journal in 2011.

Nearly 11 million disabled workers, spouses and children get Social Security disability benefits. That's a 45 percent increase from a decade ago. The average monthly benefit for a disabled worker is $1,130.

An additional 8.3 million people get Supplemental Security Income, a separately funded disability program for low-income people.

In order to qualify, people are supposed to have disabilities that prevent them from working and are expected to last at least a year or result in death.

Social Security disability claims are first processed through a network of local Social Security Administration field offices and state agencies called Disability Determination Services. About two-thirds of initial claims are rejected, according to agency statistics.

If your claim is rejected, you can ask the field office or state agency to reconsider. If your claim is rejected again, you can appeal to an administrative law judge, who is employed by Social Security.

The average processing time for a hearing before a judge is a little longer than a year, according to the agency. Daugherty approved claims for Conn's clients in as little as 30 days, the report said.

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What makes you think a judge is honest?

October 09 2013 at 10:19 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Throw him in the clink and loose the key.

October 08 2013 at 7:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Interesting that the lawyer's last name is Conn!

October 08 2013 at 3:00 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I cannot believe all of the corruption in this government. It is like it is open season on the taxpayer and unfortunately the current leader, Barack Obama, with his lawless conduct, is setting a very poor example. With Eric Holder, his partner in crime, running the Department of Injustice, we do not have a chance. The people of this country do not understand just how serious this problem is and how close we are to losing our country by the sheer erosion of all of our values, due to this so-called \"progressive\" war they have initiated. We need a commission set up to punish this fraud to the letter, one by one, and sentence these law-breakers to real time.

October 08 2013 at 1:01 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

I'm not saying there isn't fraud in any thing the government does. You should check out judge Marilyn Zahm. Keep in mind the people on social security make about 1,000 a year. Judge Zahm makes about $167,000.00 a year. From what I've seen on one site a GS-9 lawyer could do the same job for about $40,000. I understand that she has filed an unfair labor practice suit against the commissioner. I just think if we are going after anyone, lets start at the top. I'm more upset about a salary of $167,000.00 per year, judge Zahm earned $6,423.00 per decision. That might not include the little extra the government gives out. I really like to think of this as the real welfare. The administrative law judges make about 2 1/2 billion a year, that is for 1,500 judges. That doesn't count $3 billion a year which pays the salaries of the ALJs support staff and Commissioner Astrue’s salary and that of his support staff. Also 20% of the ALJs do not hold any hearings. Now a GS-9 judge could do the same thing as these other judges for about 60 million. We need to be checking on all of this, quit going after just the little fraud. The bigger fraud is just as bad and costing tax payers also.

October 08 2013 at 12:44 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Bravo for Sen Coburn!!!

But then, the Media will not try to really work on it, as it is normal for Democrats to want to
get on a "Draw" for life in one manner or another.

It seems that these folks Unemployment checks ran out and they had to manufacture some
more Democratic ways to get permanent income, and thus these Trial Lawyers grease the]
hand of willing dishonest Doctors to keep the ball rolling.

This of course comes after the Obama Administration also has been encouraging more and
more to go onto Food Stamps.

Now America knows why slightly over 50% voted for Obama back in office, as they want
to continue their draw instead of working for a living. These "Roaches", the black girls
who get pregnant without a husband and draw benefits plus Childrens benefits, Health care
free rent, etc, are leaches on the working GOP who are paying most of the Taxes.

Do you get the Picture America, why Obama never goes into the black commuinity and
says, "This is insane and Must stop". He will never talk down to his base who re elected

an army combat veteran

October 08 2013 at 11:43 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to composerr's comment

Guess while hibernating in your bunker, you failed to do the research, after which you would know, the majority of entitlements go to Conservative States, with only one Conservative State paying more in Federal taxes, than they received in entitlements. In addition, it was the GOP/Nixon who created the Earned income & Child Tax Credits, all expanded by Reagan, Bush Sr. and Bush Jr. If not Decmorats, and Bue States, all with the highest average incomes, and lowest entitlement usage, people like you would freeze, and starve.

October 08 2013 at 12:50 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply

The corruption in Social Security and the way it is run is so widespread they are bankrupting themselves. I filed NUMEROUS complaints with SSA in 2010 when they paid a mail-drop box \"provider\" $1,200.00 for a back brace that could be purchased locally or online for at most $250.00. When questioned, SSA said that is what the mail drop box vendor charged. Me thinks this smells and the corrupotion in SSA goes right to the top.

October 08 2013 at 11:42 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I'd like to see the DA dig deeper into WV's corruption, everything is monopolized, from all tv channels being owned by one corp. to only one taxi comp. in Morgantown, when others trying to be a taxi comp. getting turned down, to no building inspectors to inspect rentals in on. county

October 08 2013 at 11:24 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

Wherever you have government giveaways, you have corruption. Democrats don't seem to understand this. Which is to say, they don't seem to understand human nature, which is fundamentally selfish -- a result of evolution.

October 08 2013 at 10:14 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
3 replies to niceguyarl's comment
that dude

whats up

October 08 2013 at 9:32 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply