WASHINGTON, D.C. — A U.S. Senate investigation into the Federal Disability Insurance Program, with its annual budget of $135 billion, focuses on the border area between West Virginia and Kentucky

Records show about 250,000 people there, more than ten percent of the population, receive disability payments each month.

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) sits on the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Investigations.  He said the program that was created in the 1950s to help people who cannot work because of illness or injury is now propping up the economy in some of the poorest regions of the United States.

“You take a good concept that’s well meaning and then you don’t manage it, you don’t monitor it,” Coburn told CBS’ “60 Minutes” in a story that aired on Sunday night.  “Pretty soon, you end up in places like in West Virginia, certain counties, where, you know, you’re born to be on disability.”

“Wall Street JournalReporter Damian Paletta first raised questions about possible fraud with disability awards from David “D.B.” Daugherty, a former Social Security appeals judge in Huntington, back in 2011.

Records showed Daugherty, who has since retired, approved almost 100 percent of the disability cases he considered.  The national average approval rate is 62 percent.

Both Daugherty and Eric Conn, a disability lawyer based in eastern Kentucky, have been named in a federal civil suit that claims the two schemed to defraud the federal government of millions of dollars through awards for bogus disability claims.

Conn was part of the “60 Minutes” story which aired a day before a scheduled hearing in front of the U.S. Senate Committee on Government Affairs that was supposed to focus on the Federal Disability Insurance Program, which is run through the Social Security Administration.

It was not clear Monday morning if that hearing was going to happen because of the ongoing partial federal government shutdown.

National statistics showed almost 12 million people are on disability now, a number that has jumped 20 percent during the last six years.

Paletta was a guest on Monday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”

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  • CC

    Mark O.

    You do not have to have health insurance to apply or receive Social Security Disability. I know because I represent claimants.

    Everyone Else:

    I am from that area. I left, went to college, and moved away for employment. What people/legislators need to realize is that they (the government) have created an culture of welfare. Approximately 90% of those residents are "Pro Union", even though they can't understand (do not possess the ability to understand, due to lack of education) that Unions are killing their employment opportunities. For example, approximately 5-7 years ago, the Nurse's Union called for a strike for higher wages. The hospital in that area of WV advised that they could not afford higher wages and it would bankrupt the hospital. The Nurse's Union refused all offers from the hospital, called for the strike and approximately 6 months later, the hospital filed for bankruptcy and now all of those worker are receiving $0.00 in wages. Most males in this geographical area drop out of High School, and their biggest hope is to "land" a union blue collar job (only a few are hired every year, less than 100). While the females usually get pregnant prior to graduating high school and continue carrying on their family's (mother's) tradition of having babies for more money from the Welfare system.
    You are dealing with up to 4 generations of people who will say to your face " my parents and grandparents lived on welfare, why can't I?"
    As for Mr. Conn, yes there is corruption there. Yes, in a rural area there is almost always more corruption than an urban area. However, let's face it, corruption is everywhere. I mean look at Chicago politics and Detroit politics for example.. or the 20 something gunned down in Chicago from gang violence, who is leading the charge into Chicago Police's gang unit for investigation??

    Government survives because people are dependent on it. The more people receiving benefits from government = more government power/control. So how can we expect Government to reign in it's own power?? With over 70% of the nation receiving government benefits in some form or another, why would we expect those people to vote out the very people who keep awarding them these benefits??
    Either prepare and accept that Socialism is coming ( due to the shear number of people who receive benefits from the government) or move to another country. The time for change passed us by in the election of 2008 when this country overwhelmingly voted for bigger government. Now it's too late to reverse, unless people are really willing to make the hard choice of watching babies do without as their parents get cut off from welfare..
    "The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not." - Thomas Jefferson

  • tracyo64

    "The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not." - Thomas Jefferson

  • Muriel Denno

    How bout the thousands of Prisoners exiting right into the Disability Program. Prison staff are REQUIRED to get them set up in the Program prior to exiting prison!!

    They not only fool the courts, but use then use their "disability" when they leave prison.

    • Mark O

      I guess you know nothing about SS then.... You have to be insured.. Inmates are not insured and any insured status they have would have expired. You need to check your facts a bit my friend.

  • Marilyn

    Why should Sen.Coburn appologize.The truth is the truth.I think it's a shame the taxpayers have their hard earned money taken by the government and handed over to people that are to lazy to work. Some folks do have genuine disabilities,but alot dont. fat lazy people get checks for being fat and the government shoves money and food stamps at them so they can get fatter.My neighbor gets a disability check and the government pays for someone to clean her house,drive her around and walk her dog.I've seen her out doing yard work and carrying stuff I probably cant carry. I've got arthritis in my back and hands and I work more than 40 hrs. a week.

  • Larry

    There is no doubt in my mind that there are more people in WV drawing undeserved disability than those who rightfully receive it. I have never seen so many men in their late 30's or early 40's with "bad backs" in my life. It's a disgusting disgrace to mankind. If I could just receive 1/2 percent of all the dummy checks and bad back checks that the residents of this state receive every month, I would be rich beyond my wildest dreams.

    • realitycheck

      just hang out in any retail store parking lot and see folks in massive pick up trucks w/ handicap stickers pull in.... and then watch the healthy men get out and - without any trouble at all - stroll into the stores (where they will spend all of the money that your taxes went for).

  • D.P.

    Tom - If I were you I sure would seriously think about taking a remedial grammar class, starting at the 2nd or 3rd grade level! Even though your post is only two sentences, it is virtually unreadable (but I do get your absurd drift).

    Obviously, you're a far left lemming and in all probability on welfare, receiving food stamp stamps and all the other "Goodies" provided by Santa Claus. Why don't you get a job Tom and then start watching Fox News. You will feel much better about yourself!!!

  • Tom

    This is all bush fault and do not forget this is a Bible Belt place , republican voting. Stupid sheeps listen to rush and fox news

    • Vinnie


      What a well thought-out answer. You are very intelligent....nahhhh.
      "bush"..."stupid sheeps"...Wow. At least be able to articulate a point before you bloviate with bad spelling and grammar. The free ride days of the democrats in Southern WV is soon coming to an end. You can all blame yourselves when it does. President Bush looks better all the time.

      • Bigfish

        Bush looks better all the time? Where did you get those glasses? I want some.

  • D.P.

    Tish - Have you been too busy to notice that Obama and the Dem hierarchy have blamed Bush for for the terribly sad state of our country during the past five years??? You're just another yellow dog Dem so I'm sure that never occurs to you!

    It will make me absolutely sick if Clinton wins in 2016, but if she does, will she blame Bush for everything negative still happening? I'm 100% sure she would NEVER blame Obummer!!!

    • Bigfish

      You will be very very sick in 2016. Guaranteed

  • Fedup

    Working in the medical field for over 30 years, I have seen all the ways that people scam the system..but spread the blame to the attorneys who profit from each claim approved, the doctors, the medicaid system which allows patients to continually go to the doctor to "prove" their "illness", the system which allows obesity, drug addiction, and alcohol abuse to be automatic disabilities. What about children who are un-disciplined and unruly who get diagnosed with ADHD at a young age (6,7,8 and older) who are labeled "disabled" and can start receiving checks, when do they get re-evaluated to see if they are able to work? They can carry that label into their adult years, and never be tested again to see if they can be gainfully employed. I had a child tell me, while he was waiting to have a psychological test, that his mom said to act stupid so they could get more money.

    Yes, I know there are legitimate disabled people out there, and you know who you are, but there are many more who know how to work the system. How about all the guys with "back problems" and cannot work but have no trouble dragging a deer up the mountain during hunting season.

    What is really sad, when I get my yearly statement from Social Security, my monthly medical payments if I were disabled would be more than I bring home now. Makes me wonder why I get up and go to work everyday.......

  • Johnny

    It sucks that myself and my wife work hard all week to afford next to nothing. But on the ride home you see the neighbor with there two new vehicles and him riding a tractor and cutting wood and working for someone under the table while drawing a disabilty check.

    • Jonus Grumby

      I wonder why I am working 4 jobs for the same reason. While they don't get rich, you can't beat the hours.

      • realitycheck

        yep, government pays you not to work. free pills (that they can sell). free (or heavily subsidized) housing. food stamps. free phone. clothing vouchers. free meals for your kids at school. Why work? sadly, this is the thinking for many - and it is passed on from parents to children.

  • Spell Checker

    It is abused, of that there is no doubt. Rural area economies are sustained by so-called "disability" claims, social security, and welfare. In so doing we have created a trans-generation class of individuals who feel they deserve something for nothing in return. I would venture to guess that outside of Cabell, Kanawha, Putnam, and the panhandles 25%+ of the remaining counties are sustained and continue to be sustained by this infusion of transfer payments.

    Additionally, I am amazed by the number of people who weren't "disabled" until they got themselves in hot water with their employer and were forced to resign from their job.

    Is there no mechanism of periodic review built in to the system for any claim of "disability"? Is there no hotline a taxpayer can call?

    "Born to be on disability" is real and includes both parents many times. Ask anyone who comes into contact with the public on a regular basis. What a gravy train--but I guess it beats working.

    • 2XLPatriot

      There is a hotline but, it's difficult to get. Also, when you call to report someone, they scruitinize you like you're a crimminal, ask for photographic or video proof and pretty much blow you off. No periodic review. Once declared disabled, unless specified "Temporary", you get a check for life.

      • Rizzie

        Wrong. There are periodic reviews called Continuing Disability Reviews.

        • 2XLPatriot

          And I'm sure that since more people on disability outnumber Veterans whose claims are backlogged, these periodic reviews are timely and up to date.

        • Jonus Grumby

          And if they deny you, simply go to someone like Eric Conn to take the case. Problem solved.

    • Pruntytown

      Monongalia County?

  • JTC

    Maybe coburn should look at his home state of Oklahoma before casting stones at WV, yes I am sure we have our share of disability cheaters but to single out WV is unprofessional. I bet he cannot even name a WV county. Manchin and Rockefeller please go to the Senate floor and demand an apology from this Okie!

    • realitycheck

      wow, someone speaks the truth and you can't stand it because he's from another state??? seriously? demand an apology because he's pointing out what anyone with two eyes can see? get a grip.

    • zero tolerance

      Sometimes the truth is more important than the knowledge of each county contained within each of the 50 states......SMH


    I honk al disability claims should be revisited. I'm sure there are bonafide claims, but most are just lazy or suffer a minimal illness that does not prevent them from working somewhere. Maybe we should rename this county to Bogus County. I know people with amputee limbs and have had multiple heart attacks who are still working. It's all about the culture and the abuse of certain segments of population, certainly ambulance chasing attorneys and govt officials.

  • 2XLPatriot

    The results of the investigation and subsequent denial of the claims will result in another 1/4 million unemployed when they find that these folks are more than capable of working.

    • Jonus Grumby

      Then fund U-Hauls to move them to where the jobs are. Like, say, North Dakota.

      • 2XLPatriot

        We would have to use Haliburton since U-Haul is not a Gov. contractor.

  • wvrefugee

    Isn't this where King Coal does so much good for it's people??????

    • doug

      This is part of the 47% Romney talked about that Obama protects. Mark my words. No one will have it taken away until after Obama is gone. If at all.

      • John Lindsay

        How stupid, Doug.
        These people voted for Romney, Bush, and other CONservatives.
        Under-educated, welfare-dependent, substance abuse, Hepatitis B &C, epidemic rates of gonorrhea, high murder rates, high rate of child abuse/foster-care, abuse of disability programs, etc.

        • pc

          Your last sentence describes all those inner city types in Philly, New Orleans, Chicago, Detroit, DC, Baltimore, etc., who voted 95+ % for the "Bro", OBAMA!!!

      • Tish

        Stop blaming the President for everything. This is corruption at its finest between a judge and lawyers. This is not the President's fault. Put the blame on the people who actually committed the acts of fraud. It is sickening that the Romney and tea party crew has nothing better to do than blame President Obama for everything. Were where they before?? It is just ridiculous.

        • Jonus Grumby

          I doubt Obama will be leading the charge to correct this.

        • Marco

          It's Bush's Fault

    • Jason R.

      It use to, until Obama and his EPA came along and destroyed the industry.

      • Harpers Ferry

        And the UMWA helped put him in office. What say you now?

      • Tom

        Thank you republicans

      • John Lindsay

        That's a LIE, Jason R.
        Coalfield jobs have been declining for the past 25 or so years....long, long before Obama became President.
        Natural gas and new technology used to mine coal.....have made made the largest impacts on the loss of jobs in this industry.