Key members of Congress said Tuesday that two Social Security judges may have approved thousands of bogus disability claims, but the agency has never gone back to review those judges’ cases to stop the ones that were fraudulent.
Rep. James Lankford, Oklahoma Republican, and Rep. Jackie Speier, California Democrat, who head the House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee on health care, say Social Security employees should be allowed to look at the social media profiles of those applying for disability, reasoning that photos and other information people post can expose the applicants as able-bodied.
The lawmakers also said the agency should come up with a system to review cases from “red-flag” judges who show inclinations toward rubber-stamping applications.
In an exhaustive 11-page memo to Social Security acting Commissioner Carolyn W. Colvin, the lawmakers detailed nearly a dozen recommendations for improving a disability system that has received an explosion of applications in recent years and is in danger of going bankrupt by 2016.
Mr. Lankford and Ms. Speier said it was indefensible that the agency hasn’t reviewed applications approved by two administrative law judges, David B. Daugherty in West Virginia and Charles Bridges in Pennsylvania, who have been accused of making bogus disability determinations. ...
The oversight committee has been looking into the disability issue for some time and took testimony from Jasper J. Bede, a regional chief administrative law judge who told investigators that some judges appeared to be rubber-stamping applications.
Judge Bede singled out Judge Bridges, who decided more than 2,000 cases a year and who often went beyond looking at an applicant’s disability and considered income or other factors.