ALJ And Lawyer Reportedly Conspire To Push Through SSDI Cases, Media Portrayal Of Disability System Inaccurate

On the heels of a CBS News story, last week congressional investigators issued a report alleging that a retired Social Security judge in West Virginia conspired with a lawyer to improperly award Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) to hundreds of people.

According to the Associated Press, the report accuses Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) David B. Daugherty of working 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,” the report by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee said.

Conn runs a law firm specializing in SSDI law, and was featured on the CBS News program 60 Minutes recently, which ran an attack piece on SSDI and the Social Security Administration (SSA).

Conn reported to a Senate hearing last week after he was subpoenaed to testify, but refused to answer questions, asserting his constitutional right against self-incrimination.

“The report describes how one lawyer, several judges and a group of doctors took advantage of the situation and exploited the program for their own personal benefit,” Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., said. “Together, they moved hundreds of claimants onto the disability rolls based on manufactured medical evidence and boilerplate decisions. As a result they saw millions of dollars flow their way, promotions at work and had bad behavior ignored.”

We are the first to admit that the Social Security system is not perfect. Lawyers and judges who reportedly conspire to deceive the system end up hurting everyone. Unfortunately, when news like this comes out, media outlets and politicians like to discuss so-called “entitlement programs”, and jump to conclusions that these issues represent the system as a whole. However, these isolated problems are simply anecdotal.

Research shows that the rise in SSDI claims is a result of the baby-boom generation entering peak-disability years. Many experts also predicted a growth in claims over 20 years ago, as more women were entering the workplace in the 1970s and 1980s, leading to more people earning work credits.

SSDI is not an entitlement program—benefits are paid through the Social Security Trust Fund, which does not affect the nation’s deficit. When media reports suggest otherwise or simply fail to report this, they are fundamentally biased.

If you have questions about an application for disability benefits, do not hesitate to contact our Tulsa Social Security disability lawyers for a free evaluation of your case. You may also reach us by phone at (918) 265-1404.

Troutman & Troutman, P.C. – Tulsa Social Security disability lawyers

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