Monday, October 16, 2017

SSA Announces 2% COLA Increase in 2018

Social Security checks to be 2% bigger in 2018.

Average monthly check will go up $27



NEW YORK  - Millions of Americans will get a boost to their Social Security checks next year.
The government announced a 2 percent increase to Social Security Benefits October 13. The bigger checks aim to help offset rising prices.
The average monthly check is estimated to increase to $1,404 in January -- a $27 increase from $1,377 a month.
Millions of Americans rely on Social Security to help make ends meet, and many have been struggling in the face of higher prices on essentials like health care, rent and food. Not all of the recipients are retired workers -- many are people with disabilities, or surviving spouses and children.
The 2 percent increase is the highest since 2012 when retirees got a 3.6 percent raise.
At the start of 2017, recipients saw an increase of just 0.3 percent.
In 2016, there was no increase. Over the summer, the Social Security trustees had projected a 2.2 percent increase in benefits.
Around 62 million Americans will receive around $955 billion in Social Security benefits this year, according to the Social Security Administration.
The annual cost of living adjustment (COLA) was introduced in 1975 and is based on increases in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W). CPI-W tracks how much consumers pay for goods and services.
But some argue the increase is not enough to cover rising prices.
"For the tens of millions of families who depend on Social Security for all or most of their retirement income, this cost of living increase may not adequately cover expenses that rise faster than inflation including prescription drug, utility and housing costs," said AARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkins.
The Social Security Administration also announced the maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax will increase to $128,700 from $127,200.
 (  VASEL, KATHRYN, CNN Money, 13Oct2017)

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Two Judges, A lawyer and A Psychchologist Walked Into A Bar (No, A Prison)



Adkins gets 25 years, $93M in fines

 A Pikeville, Kentucky, psychologist's involvement in disgraced former Attorney Eric Conn's $550 milion Social Security fraud scheme and rejection to take a plea deal will cost him 25 years behind bars and more than $93 million in fines, the U.S. Department of Justice announced September 22, 2017.
Doctor Alfred Bradley Adkins (PHd), 46, was sentenced by Lexington-based U.S. District Judge Danny C. Reeves of the Eastern District of Kentucky after a jury found him guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire frauds, one count of mail fraud, one count of wire fraud and one count of making false statements after a June 2017 trial.
The $93 million in restitution will be paid to the Social Security Administration and other agencies. He was also ordered to forfeit $187,600 in fees.
While Adkins was the final defendant to be sentenced in the case, the book on the largest Social Security fraud case in the nation may never close with its ringleader Conn missing after he absconded from supervision prior to his own sentencing.
As part of the complex scheme, former Huntington-based SSA Administrative Law Judge David Black Daugherty would seek out pending disability cases claimants represented by Eric Conn and assign the cases to himself.
From 2004 to 2011, Conn solicited Adkins to sign medical evaluation forms his office had previously prepared, without reviewing or even evaluating claimants. He received $350 for each approval. Conn subsequently sent the forms to Daugherty, who in turn approved the claimants' requests for disability.
Their scheme obligated SSA to pay more than $550 million in lifetime benefits to claimants. Of at least 3,149 disability cases filed by Conn, more than 1,700 have been deemed fraudulent by government investigators.
Conn paid Daugherty more than $609,000 for granting benefits and nearly $200,000 to Adkins for signing the forms. For his part, Conn received more than $7 million in attorney's fees.
Conn fled from the area prior to his sentencing and was last spotted in July at a gas station and a Walmart in New Mexico, according to the FBI, citing photos from surveillance cameras.
Despite his absence, Reeves sentenced him to 12 years in federal prison, the maximum allowed for stealing from the government through fraudulent disability claims and paying bribes to a Social Security judge.
Conn was ordered to pay more than $100 million in restitution to Social Security and Medicare, along with $5.7 million to the U.S. Department of Justice. He also received a $50,000 fine.
Daugherty, 81, was sentenced last month to a four-year federal prison sentence and to repay more than $93.8 million in restitution to the government agencies
A fourth man involved, Charlie Paul Andrus, 67, who was the chief administrative law judge in the Huntington Social Security Office, admitted to retaliation against an office whistleblower, was sentenced to serve six months in prison.
A $20,000 reward is being offered to information leading to Conn's arrest. Those with information are asked to call the FBI's Louisville, Kentucky, office at 502-263-6000.



  • Wednesday, August 30, 2017

    How Many Social Security Judges Will Go To Jail? How Many Should?


    Former Social Security judge, 81, gets prison time, must repay more than $94M

    (Above, Former SSA ALJ David Black Daugherty)
    A former administrative law judge who took payments in more than 3,100 disability cases involving a now-fugitive lawyer was sentenced to four years in prison and ordered to repay more than $94 million on Friday, August 25, 2017.
    David Black Daugherty, 81, of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, had admitted taking more than $609,000 cash in the scheme involving lawyer Eric Conn, according to a press release, the Lexington Herald-Leader and West Virginia Metro News. The sentence was the maximum for the two illegal gratuities charges to which Daugherty pleaded guilty.
    The bribery scheme obligated the Social Security Administration to pay more than $550 million in lifetime benefits. U.S. District Judge Danny Reeves of Lexington, Kentucky, called the sentence a “sweet deal” and said it was “not anywhere near an appropriate punishment,” according to the Herald-Leader. Prosecutors said the sentence was appropriate given Daugherty’s age and health problems.
     
    (Above Attorney , Eric Conn))
    Conn pleaded guilty in March and fled on June 2. He was sentenced to 12 years in prison in absentia. A person claiming to be Conn wrote an email saying he fled because he thought it was unfair that Daugherty and another judge convicted in connection with the scheme would get sentences that were not as long as the one he would potentially receive.
    Reeves denied Daugherty’s request to delay the start date of his prison term, the Herald-Leader reports. Reeves said Daugherty already had time to prepare for the sentence. He also noted that Daugherty had made an unsuccessful suicide attempt after his guilty plea, and he didn’t want to give him a chance to try again.
    Reeves ordered Daugherty to repay the government $609,000 for the bribes he collected, as well as $93.8 million for the improperly awarded benefits. Reeves said he doubted the money would be collected.
    Another judge, Charlie Paul Andrus, was convicted for conspiracy to retaliate against, a Whistleblower, a former employee who provided information to investigators. He was the Social Security Regional Chief Judge. He was sentenced earlier this month to six months in prison, the Herald-Leader reported.

     
     (Above, Former SSA Chief Judge Frank Cristaudo)
     The both worked for Judge Frank Cristaudo. He was the Chief Judge over all the SSA Judges. They worked for Cristaudo. He has not been charged. Instead, he took credit for what Daugherty and Andrus did, and he gor promoted. What's wrong with that picture? Is that the new America Way? The workers get convicted and go to prison? And the Boss gets promoted and lives happily ever after?

    Sunday, August 27, 2017

    SSA Judge Sentenced To 4 Years In Prison

    Former SSA Judge David Daugherty going to prison for 4 years


    LEXINGTON, KY — David Black Daugherty, the former Social Security administrative law judge who was based in Huntington, was sentenced Friday to spend four years in federal prison for his role in a multi-million dollar fraud scheme.

    Retired Social Security Administrative Law Judge David Daugherty was sentenced to 4 years in prison Friday August 25, 2017.
    Daugherty, 81, approved more than 3,000 Social Security disability cases submitted by a now convicted Kentucky lawyer in exchange for money. He pleaded guilty earlier to two counts of receiving illegal payments.
    Daugherty’s attorney asked the federal judge at Friday’s sentencing in Lexington, Kentucky, to allow his client to self-report to prison in order to give him time to help his wife adjust to the change but the judge denied the request saying Daugherty, who now lives in Myrtle Beach, had all summer to get his wife ready. The judge also said Daugherty needs to be in custody immediately because he previously attempted suicide.
    Daugherty was part of the scheme with Pikeville, Kentucky lawyer Eric Conn and Dr. Alfred Bradley Adkins, a clinical psychologist from Pikeville.
    Conn would send the cases of his clients seeking Social Security disability to Daugherty who then would approve them for the benefits. .Adkins would back the appeals with bogus medical evidence. Daugherty admitted he received $609,000 in payments as part of the scheme.
    The original indictments alleged the trio conspired to seek $600 million from the Social Security Disability Fund, regardless of whether applicants involved were qualified to receive the benefits.


    Attorney Eric Conn remains on the loose on the lam somewhere in the world.
    Conn wasn’t shy about recruiting clients. He was all over southern West Virginia and Eastern Kentucky billboards with a mannequin sitting atop the sign. He billed himself as “Mr. Social Security” and wore his position as a badge of honor in fighting for workers hurt on the job.
    Prosecutors said Conn was drawing out nearly $10,000 a month from his bank account and giving it to Daugherty to rule in favor of his clients.
    Conn, who would file all of his clients disability applications in Prestonsburg, Kentucky office to make sure Daugherty received the cases, took off before he sentenced and remains on the run. A judge still sentenced him to 12 years in prison.
    Adkins, who was convicted on several charges in June, is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 22.
    Daugherty, who was allowed to retire when the scheme originally was discovered a few years ago, wasn’t fined Friday but ordered to pay nearly $94 million in restitution. The judge admitted he doubted any of the money would ever be collected.
     By in News | August 26, 2017


    Former Social Security Administrative Law Judge Sentenced to Four Years in Prison for Role in $550 Million Social Security Fraud Scheme

    A former social security administrative law judge (ALJ) was sentenced today to four years in prison for his role in a scheme to fraudulently obtain more than $550 million in federal disability payments from the Social Security Administration (SSA) for thousands of claimants.
    Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Special Agent in Charge Michael McGill of the Social Security Administration-Office of Inspector General’s (SSA-OIG) Philadelphia Field Division, Special Agent in Charge Amy S. Hess of the FBI’s Louisville Field Division, Special Agent in Charge Tracey D. Montaño of the IRS Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) Nashville Field Office and Special Agent in Charge Derrick L. Jackson of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services-Office of the Inspector General (HHS-OIG) Atlanta Regional Office made the announcement.
    David Black Daugherty, 81, of Myrtle Beach, S.C., was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Danny C. Reeves of the Eastern District of Kentucky, who also ordered Daugherty to pay restitution of over $93 million to the SSA and HHS. Daugherty pleaded guilty in May 2017 to two counts of receiving illegal gratuities.
    According to admissions made as part of his guilty plea, beginning in 2004, Daugherty, as an ALJ assigned to the SSA’s Huntington, W. Va., hearing office, sought out pending disability cases in which Kentucky attorney Eric Christopher Conn represented claimants and reassigned those cases to himself. Daugherty then contacted Conn and identified the cases he intended to decide the following month and further solicited Conn to provide medical documentation supporting either physical or mental disability determinations. Without exception, Daugherty awarded disability benefits to individuals represented by Conn – in some instances, without first holding a hearing. As a result of Daugherty’s awarding disability benefits to claimants represented by Conn, Conn paid Daugherty an average of approximately $8,000 per month in cash, until approximately April 2011. All told, Daugherty received more than $609,000 in cash from Conn for deciding approximately 3,149 cases.
    As a result of the scheme, Conn, Daugherty, and their co-conspirators obligated the SSA to pay more than $550 million in lifetime benefits to claimants based upon cases Daugherty approved for which he received payment from Conn.
    Daugherty was indicted last year, along with Conn and Alfred Bradley Adkins, a clinical psychologist. The defendants were charged with conspiracy, fraud, false statements, money laundering and other related offenses in connection with the scheme.
    Conn pleaded guilty on March 24, to a two-count information charging him with theft of government money and paying illegal gratuities, and was sentenced in absentia on July 14 to 12 years in prison. Conn absconded from court ordered-electronic monitoring on June 2, and is considered a fugitive. He remains under indictment. On June 12, Adkins was convicted after a jury trial of one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud, one count of mail fraud, one count of wire fraud and one count of making false statements. Adkins is scheduled to be sentenced on September 22.
    The SSA-OIG, FBI, IRS-CI and HHS-OIG investigated the case. Trial Attorney Dustin M. Davis of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Trial Attorney Elizabeth G. Wright of the Criminal Division’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section are prosecuting the case, with previous co-counsel including Assistant U.S. Attorney Trey Alford of the Western District of Missouri and Investigative Counsel Kristen M. Warden of the Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector

    Tuesday, June 13, 2017

    SSA Proposes To Scrap The Treating Physician's Rule. Backlog Of Applicants For Benefits Expected To Worsen.

    New Rule May Worsen Backlog For Social Security Disability Claimants



    By the time Stephenie Hashmi of Lenexa, Kansas, was in her mid-20s, she had achieved a lifelong dream: She was the charge nurse at one of Kansas City’s largest intensive care units. But even as she cared for patients, she realized something was off with her own health.
    “I remember just feeling tired and feeling sick and hurting, and not knowing why my joints and body was hurting,” Hashmi says.
    Hashmi was diagnosed with systemic lupus, a disease in which the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues and organs.
    She’s had surgeries and treatments, but now, at age 41, Hashmi is often bedridden. She finally had to leave her job about 6 years ago, but when she applied for Social Security disability benefits, she was denied.

    “I just started bawling. Because I felt like, if they looked at my records or read these notes, surely they would understand my situation,” Hashmi says.
    Lisa Ekman, director of government affairs for the National Organization of Social Security Claimants Representatives, says Hashmi’s struggle with the application process is not unusual.
    “It is not easy to get disability benefits. It’s a very complicated and difficult process,” Ekman says.
    Right now, just about 45 percent of people who apply for Social Security disability benefits are accepted, and getting a hearing takes an average of nearly 600 days.
    The Kansas City office’s average hearing time is closer to 500 days, but its approval rate is slight lower at 40 percent.
    The Backlog started snowballing about 10 years ago, around the time Jason Fichtner became acting Deputy Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (SSA).
    He says that during the Great Recession, a lot of people who had disabilities applied but weren’t necessarily unable to work.
    “But they’re on the margin,” Fichtner says. “They can work, but when the recession happens, those are the first people who tend to lose their jobs, and then they apply for disability insurance.”
    There are now more than a million people across the country waiting for hearings. Adding to the strain, the Social Security Administration’s core operating budget has shrunk by 10 percent since 2010.
    This spring, the SSA introduced changes to fight fraud and streamline the application process, including a new fraud-fighting measure that removes the special consideration given to a person’s long-time doctor.  (This is known as The Treating Physician's Rule)
    Lisa Ekman says this is a mistake.
    “Those changes would now put the evidence from a treating physician on the same weight as evidence from a medical consultant employed to do a one-time brief examination or a medical consultant they had do a review of the paper file and may have never examined the individual,” Ekman says.
    She says this could lead to more denials for disabled people with complex conditions like lupus, multiple sclerosis or schizophrenia. These illnesses can affect patients in very different ways and may be hard for an outside doctor or nurse to assess.
    She says more denials will lead to more appeals, which will only increase the backlog. 
    She is correct. The Treating Physician's Opinion is controlling.
    https://judgelondonsteverson.me/2016/06/24/the-treating-physician-rule-is-controlling/
    But former administrator Fichtner, now a senior research fellow at George Mason University’s Mercatus Center, says the SSA is obligated to weed out any fraud it can, including the admittedly rare cases of treating physicians tipping the scale in favor of their patients.
    He says the SSA can still prioritize applicants.
    “For patients that are really in dire condition and really have major disabilities, I don’t think they have to worry about this rule change,” Fichtner says.
    He acknowledges, however, that the backlog needs attention and says the agency has safeguards to monitor whether the rule is working.
    Back in her kitchen in Lenexa, Stephenie Hashmi’s husband Shawn prepares a family dinner she won’t be able to eat because she’s having problems with her esophagus.
    Stephenie puts on a brave smile, but the progression of her illness and the ordeal with Social Security have made her increasingly pessimistic.
    After several rejections, she’s now on her final appeal. Her hearing is scheduled for November – of   2018.

    Tuesday, May 16, 2017

    ALJ Dave Dauherty Was Chief Judge Frank Cristaudo's Secret Weapon



    The 81-year-old David Black Daugherty pleaded guilty Friday May 13, 2017 in federal court in Lexington to two counts of taking illegal gratuities. Daugherty agreed to pay the government $609,000 as part of his plea.
                                           (Above, see Judge David Black Daugherty)
    But Judge Daugherty worked for Frank Cristaudo, who was the Chief Administrative Law Judge. (CALJ). 
                                          (Above, see SSA CALJ Frank Cristaudo)

    They both worked for Social Security Commissioner Michael Astrue.
                                     (Above, see SSA Commissioner Michael Astrue)
    Judge Daugherty was working to eliminate the "back log".
    The Chief Administrative Law Judge had and has day-to-day oversight of all of SSA's's hearing operations.
    Judge Cristaudo testified before Congress that he wanted to implement a comprehensive plan to eliminate the backlog of hearings. By eliminating the backlog, he would improve hearing office productivity and the timeliness of SSA hearings and decisions.
    Judges like ALJ Dave Daugherty were at the heart of his operation. He testified that he would be monitoring the workloads of these Judges and their cases carefully.
    He had selected a number of excellent judges including Judge Daugherty. He needed more judges like Judge Daugherty who were well-suited to SSA's type of work - judges who were capable of thriving under the workload demands of SSA's high-volume, electronic hearing operation. Judge Daugherty was the most prolific high producer that he had.
    After successfully eliminating SSA's 1,000 or more day-old cases in FY 2007, he focused on reducing the 900 or more day-old cases by the end of FY 2008.  He testified that he believed a backlog of aged cases interfered with the normal hearing office workflow. Productivity was up because of Judge Daugherty and others who decided cases without holding Hearings.  The new judges  were trained by the highest-producing judges in SSA's ALJ corps, judges like Judge Dave Daugherty.
    The complete text of Chief Judge Frank Cristaudo's testimony can be read at:
    (See   https://www.ssa.gov/legislation/testimony_091608.html)
    Wasteful and fraudulent disability payments are well-documented problems, but a congressional probe has found that they often result when administrative law judges (ALJ) in the federal bureaucracy approve previously rejected claims.
    The Social Security Administration (SSA) discovered deficiencies in appeals decisions from every ALJ it has reviewed since 2011, according to a report by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
    All 48 of the individual reviews found the ALJs wrongly evaluated applicants’ ability to work and discounted drug addiction or alcoholism, among other missteps.
    Congressional investigators built on a June 2014 report that conducted three case studies of ALJs who "rubber-stamped" almost every appeal they evaluated. By granting disability benefits to just 100 people who aren’t actually disabled, the trio added $30 million to the federal budget.
    The 1,400 judges who handled disability appeals handed out benefits to more than 3.2 million people between 2005 and 2013, granting the requests of more than half of all applicants at a cost of nearly $1 trillion.
    What’s more, investigators discovered 191 judges had approved 85 percent or more of the appealed applications that came across their desks.
    The only way SSA gauged the performance of the judges was by adding up the number of cases a judge oversaw in a given time period, according to May 2013 testimony by Frank Cristaudo, a former chief administrative law judge.
    Another top judge testified in October 2013 that granting more than 75 or 80 percent of appeals should raise a “red flag” about the reliability of those decisions.
    But awarding benefits takes “significantly less time” than denying them, the report said.

    The probe uncovered a 2012 internal review in which SSA found that the more cases judges had to decide, the less reliable their decisions were. That review found the overall accuracy of appeals decisions began to fall once judges ruled on 600 or more cases a year.
    Even so, SSA allowed dozens of judges to decide more than 1,000 cases every year, the report said.
    Without conducting any research into how long appeals decisions should actually take, Cristaudo enforced policies that compelled judges to process between 500 and 700 cases every year, the report said.
    SSA allowed “overwhelming evidence of incompetence” among its judges to continue by focusing solely on pushing as many cases as possible through the system, regardless of whether they were handled correctly, the report concluded.
     But Frank Cristaudo, was Chief Administrative Law Judge. (CALJ) when Judge Daugherty was working to eliminate the "back log".
    The Chief Administrative Law Judge had and has day-to-day oversight of all of SSA's's hearing operation.
    Judge Cristaudo testified before Congress that he wanted to implement a comprehensive plan to eliminate the backlog of hearings. By eliminating the backlog, he would improve hearing office productivity and the timeliness of SSA hearings and decisions.
    Judges like ALJ Dave Daugherty were at the heart of his operation. He testified that he would be monitoring the workloads of these Judges and their cases carefully.
    He had selected a number of excellent judges including Judge Daugherty. He needed more judges like Judge Daugherty who were well-suited to SSA's type of work - judges who were capable of thriving under the workload demands of SSA's high-volume, electronic hearing operation. Judge Daugherty was the most prolific high producer that he had.
    After successfully eliminating SSA's 1,000 or more day-old cases in FY 2007, he focused on reducing the 900 or more day-old cases by the end of FY 2008.  He testified that he believed a backlog of aged cases interfered with the normal hearing office workflow. Productivity was up because of Judge Daugherty and others who decided cases without holding Hearings.  The new judges  were trained by the highest-producing judges in SSA's ALJ corps, like Judge Dave Daugherty.
    The complete text of Chief Judge Frank Cristaudo's testimony can be read at:
    (See   https://www.ssa.gov/legislation/testimony_091608.html)

    SSA Bribery Judge Was Social Security's Highest Producer

    A former Social Security Administration judge from Huntington has pleaded guilty to taking more than $600,000 in bribes in cases involving clients of Kentucky lawyer Eric C. Conn, who is facing prison time for a scheme to defraud the government of nearly $600 million in disability payments.
    The 81-year-old David Black Daugherty pleaded guilty Friday May 13, 2017 in federal court in Lexington to two counts of taking illegal gratuities. Daugherty agreed to pay the government $609,000 as part of his plea.
                                           (Above, see Judge David Black Daugherty)
    But Judge Daugherty worked for Frank Cristaudo, who was the Chief Administrative Law Judge. (CALJ). 
                                          (Above, see SSA CALJ Frank Cristaudo)

    They both worked for Social Security Commissioner Michael Astrue.
                                     (Above, see SSA Commissioner Michael Astrue)
    Judge Daugherty was working to eliminate the "back log".
    The Chief Administrative Law Judge had and has day-to-day oversight of all of SSA's's hearing operations.
    Judge Cristaudo testified before Congress that he wanted to implement a comprehensive plan to eliminate the backlog of hearings. By eliminating the backlog, he would improve hearing office productivity and the timeliness of SSA hearings and decisions.
    Judges like ALJ Dave Daugherty were at the heart of his operation. He testified that he would be monitoring the workloads of these Judges and their cases carefully.
    He had selected a number of excellent judges including Judge Daugherty. He needed more judges like Judge Daugherty who were well-suited to SSA's type of work - judges who were capable of thriving under the workload demands of SSA's high-volume, electronic hearing operation. Judge Daugherty was the most prolific high producer that he had.
    After successfully eliminating SSA's 1,000 or more day-old cases in FY 2007, he focused on reducing the 900 or more day-old cases by the end of FY 2008.  He testified that he believed a backlog of aged cases interfered with the normal hearing office workflow. Productivity was up because of Judge Daugherty and others who decided cases without holding Hearings.  The new judges  were trained by the highest-producing judges in SSA's ALJ corps, judges like Judge Dave Daugherty.
    The complete text of Chief Judge Frank Cristaudo's testimony can be read at:
    (See   https://www.ssa.gov/legislation/testimony_091608.html)
    Daugherty faces a maximum sentence of four years. Sentencing is scheduled for August 25, 2017.
    The case involved thousands of clients of Conn, who also has pleaded guilty. He is scheduled to be sentenced in July and faces 12 years in prison. Conn has agreed to pay $5.7 million to the government and pay $46.5 million to the Social Security Administration.
    The investigation focused on actions between 2006 and 2011, a time when Conn earned millions with Social Security cases and Daugherty became one of the most prolific administrative law judges both in number of cases over which he presided and the staggering rate at which he approved benefits, which neared almost 100 percent. He was a "high producer" for Social Security Commissioner Michael Astrue.
    Conn promoted himself as "Mr. Social Security" and built a large practice from his offices along U.S. 23 in Floyd County, Kentucky, where a replica of the Lincoln Memorial still stands in the parking lot.
    Daugherty allegedly assigned Conn's cases to himself in Huntington against court policy and communicated with Conn as to what types of medical records he would need to have to approve benefits in the cases. In his criminal plea agreement, Attorney Conn said Judge Daugherty in October 2004 asked him for $5,000 to pay for addiction treatment for a family member, the Herald-Leader reported. Daugherty confirmed that account in his plea Friday, the newspaper said.
    Conn then began to pay Daugherty $10,000 each month, according to the plea agreement.
    At one time, Daugherty was approving benefits at a 99.7 percent rate, while the national average was below 70 percent.
    The scheme came to national attention in 2013 when two employees at the Huntington Social Security office, along with some of Conn's employees, testified before the U.S. Senate after a two-year Homeland Security investigation.
    A congressional report showed Daugherty awarded $2.5 billion in lifetime benefits to Conn's clients and others during his final years on the bench.
    Beyond the abuse of federal dollars, the case continues to affect hundreds of people in western West Virginia and eastern Kentucky who went to Conn's firm to seek disability benefits. Once criminal charges were filed against the lawyer, the Social Security Administration reviewed about 1,500 cases handled by Conn, and lawyers estimate about 800 people have lost their benefits.
    Daugherty was suspended when the allegations surfaced and was allowed to retire. The West Virginia Bar Association stripped Daugherty of his law license in 2014, and he relocated to Myrtle Beach shortly thereafter. But SSA cannot take his pension away.
    The Huntington native had been an administrative judge for Social Security since 1990, following a varied judicial and political career in Cabell County.
    The son of Judge Russell Daugherty, he was a graduate of Marshall University and the West Virginia College of Law and was elected to the House of Delegates from Cabell County in 1968 and 1970. He served as a circuit court judge from 1978 until 1984.