Sen. Tom Coburn claims abuse of Social Security Disability program

Sen. Tom Coburn, Md. claims several doctors, lawyers, and judges have taken advantage of the SSA disability system

For the past two years, a team has been investigating how legal, medical and judicial professionals abused Social Security Disability programs.

Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) created the team to investigate allegations of fraud and schemes to collect tax pay money by lawyers and doctors by allowing clients to obtain disability benefits.

Sen. Coburn names Eric Christopher Conn, an attorney in rural Eastern Kentucky, as an attorney who was able to obtain $3.9 million in legal fees from the SSA by disability cases for clients. Coburn says Conn used his practice to exploit key vulnerabilities in the system and became wealthy in the process.

According to Coburn's report, Conn's story became public in May 2011, when The Wall Street Journal published a report about his relationship with Judge David B. Daugherty, an Administrative Law Judge in the SSA office in Huntington, West Virginia. In the years prior to 2011, The Wall Street Journal reported he had become the SSA's highest producing judges, issuing more than 1,500 other judges, 40 percent of which were cases represented by Conn and nearly all were approved for benefits.

Employees inside the SSA office in Huntinton began noticing the two were working together before 2011. Coburn's report says Judge Dougherty would schedule 20 hearings per day for Conn's clients, settling them in 15 minute increments. Most judges randomly schedule 15-20 per week, with hearings lasting an hour or more. Coburn also says the judge would reassign Conn's cases to himself. Eventually, Coburn's report says he stopped holding hearings for Conn's cases and decided them 'on the record' in large numbers and always favorably.

Huntington's Chief Administrative Law Judge, Charles Paul Andrus, was informed of these practices but he failed to act on them.

Click here to read the entire report filed by Senator Coburn.