A recent article in the Wall Street Journal profiled Social Security Administrative Law Judge David B. Daugherty of Huntington West Virginia and the fact that he approves nearly all disability claims that come before him. Here is a link to the article: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704681904576319163605918524.html.

The article seems to suggest that Judge Daugherty and other similar ALJs are a big part of the reason the social security disability rolls have ballooned over the last few years, and the fact that government estimates predict that the social security disability insurance program will run out of money by 2018. The article also highlights the high number of cases Judge Daughetry handles, suggesting that the intense pressure within the Office of Disability Adjudication & Review (ODARS) to deal with the widely critisized case backlog encourages such high approval rates. The Wall Street Journal article notes that a high number of Judge Daugherty’s cases are with one particular lawyer, and suggests that Judge Daugherty seeks out cases with that particular lawyer.

Interestingly, I have had several attorney friends in other areas of law forward this Wall Street Journal article to me, one labeling it as “SSI Judge Corruption”. I think the article does make that suggestion, but I would note that the article has little to suggest Judge Daugherty is in fact corrupt. There is no suggestion Judge Daugherty is in cahoots with the lawyer in question, or that the lawyer has provided the Judge with any “kick-back” or anything of benefit. Nor does the article suggest that Judge Daugherty pays only that particular lawyer’s cases, and not those claimants represented by other lawyers.

At worst, I suspect Judge Daugherty indeed does approve too many cases in an economically depressed area of the country. And, yes putting too many claimants on the disability rolls will in the end hurt those who are truely disabled, because the integrity of the program is put in question. But if the Wall Street Journal is truly interested in uncovering corruption, and millions of government money being wasted, they should look to the “Street” their newspaper is named after – namely, Wall Street.

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