Social Security Administrative Law Judge Harry Taylor likes to catch a few winks while on the job at his Charleston office.  A report by the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform says the judge “repeatedly slept in his office, during staff meetings and during hearings.”

Taylor denies the allegations, even though he was once confronted by a supervisor who played a CD recording of a 2009 hearing where you could hear the judge snoring.  But according to the congressional report, the slumberous Taylor’s real problem is his legal lethargy.

His job, which he has held since 1988, is to hear appeals when a person has been denied Social Security disability benefits.  Typically, these cases only reach an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) like Taylor after they have been denied twice.

The report found that between 2005 and 2013, Taylor ruled in favor of the claimant 94 percent of the time, awarding $2.5 billion in benefits to 8,227 individuals.  In two out of every three cases, Taylor reached his decision without holding a hearing.

Reviews by the Social Security Administration found Taylor’s work incompetent and sloppy.  Additionally, the congressional report determined he repeatedly demonstrated inappropriate conduct toward female co-workers and others.

Ironically, Taylor may have helped the Charleston SSA office look good to some higher ups because his whirlwind approach helped reduce a backlog of cases; never mind that it cost taxpayers billions.

This problem is much larger than one person, though.  The congressional report says that between 2005 and 2013, “more than 1.3 million individuals were placed on a federal disability program, at a total cost of nearly $400 billion by ALJs who granted appeals more than 75 percent of the time.”

The abuse first came to light in a 2010 report in the Wall Street Journal which focused, interestingly enough, on another ALJ from West Virginia.  D.B. Daugherty of Huntington was the poster child for runaway claims.  He awarded benefits 99 percent of the time, approving $2.5 billion in lifetime benefits to 8,413 individuals from 2005 until 2011.

Daugherty is alleged to have collaborated with Kentucky disability attorney Eric Conn, who sought people who had been denied benefits and then steered the cases to Daugherty for approval.  According to the Journal, Daugherty once said of his more judicious cohorts, “Some of these judges act like it’s their own damn money we’re giving away.”

Daugherty was forced to retire in 2011, but he is collecting full federal retirement benefits.  As for Taylor, he remains on the job.  A supervisor recommended over a year ago that Taylor be suspended for 60 days for misconduct, but that’s still pending.

Better yet, Taylor should resign, but that’s a big decision. Perhaps he should sleep on it.

 

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Comments

  • Buck

    Cut the class warfare crap and blaming the GOP, billyed. This is a case of another lazy, worthless ALJ that should be fired. There are thousand of "disabled" West Virginian's out there working for cash every day and sleaze buckets like Taylor and Daughtery are a huge part of the problem.

    • Sacor

      Try to live on 1000 a month. Bet you can't!

    • Bob

      I hope you never become disabled. Can you live on 700 a month? You don't have to be bedfast to get disability. I think Daughtery was wrong getting kickbacks. Judge Taylor was not that kind of person. Don't judge unless you know the facts. It's called being ignorant.

    • Ole Sasquatch

      +1

  • Jim N Charleston

    Skippy,

    DUDE, How many SS/Disability lawyers advertise on your program?I know of 1 who "won't take NO for an answer!" and at least every 1/2 hour her song & jingle let everybody know it.

    Brah, your bills get paid from some of the playas in this deal. Say what you will, but you help the playas land.

    I'm Jim N Myrtle Beach
    All I got
    L8r Man

    • Mason County Contrarian

      "Skippy"?
      "Brah"?
      "Playa"?
      "Dude"?
      "Playa land"?

      I believe your table at Buffalo Wild Wings is ready now.

  • billyed

    It is so obvious. Typical GOP mentality. Attack the poor and disadvantage. Make them accountable (for Dollars). While ignoring, changing the subject (on Trillions of Dollars), that are given in corporate and wealthy tax loopholes, foreign offshore shelters and tax giveaways.

    • Bob

      I agree..

    • Ole Sasquatch

      Given? I expect most corporations do much more good than govt. and earn their profits.
      It's very hard for me to feel that govt. earns anything this day and age. To accept that they take to give to make a better world is mainly questionable today. It's simply a balance between capitalism and socialism which history repeatedly tells us that capitalism plays a much more humane role than you and most democrats are willing to admit.

    • billyed

      Even Pope Francis has called out
      the GOP on this.

      • DWM

        Given?

        Just so we know that the top 10% of wage earners pay 50% of the fed tax and the top 51% of wage earners pay ALL the fed tax.

        What don't you get about the bottom 49% of wage earners not paying a dime of any fed tax?

        At least they should get a thank you.

      • MP

        Your completely worthless.

  • Gary R

    It is not only the judges but the local offices are putting a lot of people that could be working. People apply for disability get turned down . Then they get a lawyer and they're then approved for disability with the same information. Why? Probably over half the people on disability could be working. Everyone thinks they paid into it so they are owed it. What gets me is that I worked for almost 50 years and paid into social security and some of these people worked for a few years and made a lot less than me and they get almost as much in disability as I get in social security plus they get free medical. Just go to an auction or sale and watch these people on disability load up the furniture and lawnmowers they bought but they can't work. Why . Because if you can get paid not to work do it. If a person really is disabled I don't have a problem with them getting disability but I have seen very few really disabled.

    • Liam

      Your ignorant!

  • Eric

    top 5 states for disability:

    WV--9.0%
    AR--8.2%
    AL--8.1%
    KY--8.1%
    MS--7.7%

    By the time you get #10 it's 6.0% or 1/3rd less than WV.

    High poverty, low education, high obesity and high smoking rates--all common among the top 5 states. Mining and forestry produce plenty of disabled. Plenty of abuse in the system, but West Virginians just do a crappy job of taking care of themselves in general. Fortunately, it is a small state.

    • Cletus

      Ranked number 2 in obesity in the latest audit of American health. Would have been number 1 but most of the southern part of the state was hunting ramps and missed the weigh in.

      • Lisa

        If you live in WV ... You need to leave! Shame on you!

        • Cletus

          I did.

  • Retiree!!

    West Virginia!! The Gimmie! Gimmie state!

    • Benthere

      Yes sir.....give me snuff, cigs, beer, NASCAR, deer huntin and a check from Uncle Sam.

      • Benthere

        Oh and a trailer on a lot that floods out every other year.

    • mntnman

      Yeah, and my taxes are paying your benefits retiree. If you have been retired more than five years, you long ago took out what you paid in. (Statistically speaking -- high wage earners do pay a lot more -- it takes more years. But average earners -- five years out, they've reaped what they sowed.)

      Do I mind? Absolutely not!!! It is a compact our society has entered into with each other. You work, pay in and retire -- or become disabled, then the rest of us pay for your benefits. Those coming behind me will (I hope) pay mine. That's the deal we all entered in to. It is patently unfair to criticize one group in that bunch -- when you are in the other group. Disability benefits are INSURANCE PAID FOR -- just like retirement. Eligibility for both is decided by law.

      • Aaron

        A Ponzi scheme is a fraudulent investment operation where the operator, an individual or organization, pays returns to its investors from new capital paid to the operators by new investors, rather than from profit earned by the operator. Operators of Ponzi schemes usually entice new investors by offering higher returns than other investments, in the form of short-term returns that are either abnormally high or unusually consistent. The perpetuation of the high returns requires an ever-increasing flow of money from new investors to sustain the scheme.

        • Aaron

          I should note that is from Wikipedia which is not sufficient for a college essay but Is suitable for the blogosphere.

  • Aaron

    There is a system in which young Americans live on welfare for as long as possible, work a menial job for as little as possible and then apply for and receive SSI disability income for the remainder of their lives.

    In a land of 300 million, 125 million of us are working full time jobs, paying 2.5 trillion in taxes and taking care of the rest. Given that most receive housing subsidies, utility subsidies, healthcare subsidies, food subsidies, free cell phones and earned income credits on what little they do work, being poor pays more than working as someone drawing a SSI check or who working a minimum wage job can receive more than $3000 per month in real disposable income.

    Who am I to complain though as we are the richest nation on earth and it's only the fair and equal thing to do. After all, these individuals didn't choose to be where they are, they were cast in that lot by birth and everyone knows that where you are born determines your income inequality and mobility, not what you put into the life you were given.

    As some would have us believe, it's God's fault.

    • Hop'sHip

      Well that was a snarky and "whinny" comment. I'm sure in Foxworld what you claim is true. But I understand that most of the increase in disability claims can be explained by demographics - we are an aging country. I understand that in most of the country, even most of WV, it isn't easy to get on disability. I'm all for rooting out abuse, but let's keep things in perspective. I feel very fortunate to not being disabled and don't understand the need to malign those less fortunate.

      • Aaron

        Can you elaborate on how my comments were snarky or "whinny" and do you honestly think that 3% of the United States population is disabled? Clearly from the investigations by the oversight committee, they question the validity of those certified by this judge as disabled as questionable as they claim he "slept" through proceedings and approved 2 out of 3 cases without a hearing. That being the case, are those you claim less fortunate really so?

      • Jason412

        " being poor pays more than working as someone drawing a SSI check or who working a minimum wage job can receive more than $3000 per month in real disposable income. "

        Are you saying someone working a minimum wage job receives $3000/month in disposable income from the government or that someone on SSI receives that much? Can you elaborate on that?

        A single person with no kids working a minimum wage job with less than 40 hours/week receives around $20 a month, in food stamps, from the government. Plus whatever Medicaid would count for. As far as I know they are ineligible for any other assistance.

        A single unemployed person with no kids receives about $190 a month in food stamps, obamaphone with about $20 worth of phone time if they are approved, and medicaid.

        Someone with kids is eligible for a significant amount more in food stamps, HUD, obamaphone ect but I'm not sure of the exact numbers.

        I'm not seeing either of those two for a single person with no kids add up to anywhere close to what I, and I'm sure everyone else here, make working.

        • Aaron

          "I'm not seeing either of those two for a single person with no kids add up to anywhere close to what I, and I'm sure everyone else here, make working."

          I'm curious, that's about the 3rd time in the past few months that you have linked single people and public benefits together. Am I to assume you believe single people deserve pubic benefits?

        • FungoJoseph

          Take the kids to the doctor and get them on Ritalin. They are now considered disabled as they can get an SSI check of about $660.00 per month per child. The school they attend now gets federal credits for a "Special Needs" student.
          The parent, or both most likely are also getting SSI. Then they get HUD to pay their $600-$800 a month rent. A HUD subsidy to pay the electric bill and gas bill. $500 in food stamps. Mom also gets to claim money from day care. And to top it all off, they get paid mileage to go to the doctor under Medicaid. How much do they rack up on their monthly Medicaid?? You have to add that in also.
          In WV and Obamaland, you can live high on the hog if you get welfare benefits. Higher than many taxpayers can.

          • mntnman

            Sorry, that is simply inaccurate. Childhood benefits are the hardest to get. By far. Ritalin will not get it. Sorry, but thinking something is true doesn't actually make it true.

        • Aaron

          I'm sorry, I forgot the link.

          http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/2631211/posts

        • Aaron

          "Are you saying someone working a minimum wage job receives $3000/month in disposable income from the government or that someone on SSI receives that much?"

          That's exactly what I am saying. While I don't particularly like the site, the chart was done by Wyatt Emmerich from The Cleveland Current a few years back and is dated as I would question the deduction of child care which would be subsidized and I would imagine that the rent subsidy of 362.50 per month is low.

          I would imagine that with health care now fully subsidized to the individual, increased child care subsidized and a larger rental subsidy that disposable income exceeds $40,000 annually. In America it pays to be poor.

          • Aaron

            When you add the benefits to the income, the economic impact of a part time, minimum wage employee easily exceeds $3,000.00 per month. Given the cradle to grave care far too many receive, why should they try to improve their lot in life?

          • Jason412

            I never said it doesn't pay to be poor, but it doesn't pay 60k a year. Also, it pays to be poor if you have children. If you don't have children you could cross off about everything on that list but food stamps and medicaid.

          • Aaron

            And yes, the previous email was a type. That's what you get with when typing on an iphone with small font and poor eyesight.

            At least that's the excuse I'm using today.

          • Aaron

            First, Jason, you are correct in that the chart was in essence debunked as the numbers are inaccurate on both sides of the ledger. I was wrong in accepting those numbers, but I will say, from personal experience, I agree with the principal behind the chart.

            Without comparing them to other income brackets, those earning the minimum amount to qualify for EITC would be eligible for ~$5,100 in that money, pay zero federal or state taxes, likely qualify for additional tax child tax credits, get free day care, free medical insurance, qualify for ~$275 a month in food stamps, be eligible for a hefty housing allowance (as the article you pointed out, housing is gaged on the cost of the unit and the area located so the dollar amount is difficult to attain but in the Charleston market, runs as much as $900.00 in some pretty nice 3 BR Condo's) eligible for a free cell phone, on average as much as $300 per month in utility allowances, plus assistance with transportation cost and that doesn't even begin to get into the money they could receive from charities and such.

            While you are correct in pointing out the fallacies of the chart, you have done little to disprove the fact that being poor in America certainly does pay.

            Plus it provides a nice base for the Democratic Party, don't you agree!!!!!

          • Jason412

            If that is a typo and you meant food stamp, not doss ramp, it's for neither but food stamps are the same from state to state.

            There are no percentages to debate, the information is straight false and can be checked on a government website in 30 seconds.

            It may pay to be poor in America, but it sure as hell doesn't leave anyone close to the same income as a similar family earning 60k, and there's nothing close to 30/40k disposable income as you said.

          • Aaron

            Was your doss ramp calculator for WV or Ohio? Not that it matters as you have your mind made up and I'm not going to spend hours debating percentages. The crux of argument is accurate in that it certainly pays to be poor in America.

          • Jason412

            From the chart

            "I have left out the mother of all welfare programs - Supplemental Security Income (SSI). SSI pays $8,088
            per year for each “disabled” family member. A person can be deemed “disabled” if they are totally
            lacking in the cultural and educational skills needed to be employable in the workforce.

            If you add $24,262 a year for three disability checks, the lowest paid welfare family would now have far
            more take-home income than the $60,000-a-year family."

            This guy is now saying 2 children (his example was a single parent with 2 children) would also be eligible for disability? If the children were somehow eligible for disability that would void the benefits of school lunch, temp needy family assistance, and chip.


            It sounds like he's just throwing out numbers to try and get people stirred up, especially when he goes off about how "if you have a under the table job things get even better"

            It's disappointing that anyone would take the chart as fact.

          • Jason412

            Here is a link debunking the chart in depth more than I can myself.

            http://www.newrepublic.com/article/82962/conservatives-economic-chart-fox-de-rugy

            The guy can't even provide the sources for the benefit calculators he claims are so easy to find. The one I can find, the food stamp calculator, proves his numbers to be false.

            Sounds like a chart full of misinformation.

          • Jason412

            I couldn't read that link my phone cuts it off the last few letters, but I think I found the same chart.


            The numbers seem to be drastically exaggerated. I would also say food stamps or anything other than the tax credit is hardly "disposable income". Food stamps can only be spent on food, that is not disposable income.


            First, he has the $14k and $3k sections receiving identical amounts of food stamps. That is false, and you can easily check it yourself at the link I provided.


            I picked the $14,500 section to check the numbers against, using food stamp benefit calculator ( http://www.ndhealth.gov/dhs/foodstampcalculator.asp)

            14,500/12 = 1208.33 monthly income.
            A family of 3, making 1208.33 a month with 0's to fill in all the other sections since they would not be paying rent or medical.

            The food stamp calculator says that person would receive 252.00 a month. That's $3024 a year in food stamps, a very far stretch from the $6,312 claimed in the chart.

            The numbers are a bit closer if you use the 3k section. That person would receive 5640 a year.

            I don't think I'll even bother checking the rest, as if he can't get something as simple as that correct while saying "check it yourself on a benefit calculator", my guess is the rest is just as exaggerated.

  • Ashamed

    Here in pleasants county, there is a guy who was awarded disability for his shoulder and back pain. He is out on the local golf course on a daily basis on the tax payer dime. My guess is it is slow rehab that he plans to conclude when he passes.

  • BR549

    The administration is cracking down on these judges which is a good thing as the fund will run out of money in 2016. EVERY single case needs to be reviewed, if you're a construction worker and can no longer do that kind of work because of a bad back, you can still answer the phone or run a cash register. Get off your lazy A** and do something!

    Social Security is THE BEST program in the history of the world but can be ruined by a bunch of lazy people and sleazy lawyers/judges and we need to stop this NOW.

    • Aaron

      "The administration is cracking down on these judges..."

      Do you have anything other than your opinion to verify that is the Administration and not the US House or Representatives as is quoted in this story that is cracking down on these Judges?

      "A report by the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform"

    • Silas Lynch

      The administration is "cracking down on these judges"? I believe you are right, but why?

      Could it be because they're running out of money and the best return of future votes and support for their investment lies with those they are letting flood across our borders today?

      Hoppy isn't going to like what I'm about to say and I will hear the wrath of many for repeating it but "The Browning of America" is no longer a goal, it's a plan in action--- Just google "browning of America" and read till your heart content and you'll soon learn it isn't about welcoming "The Poor, The Tired, The Huddled Masses" from Mexico or Central and South America--- It's about making Non-Hispanic Whites the minority in America--- Many of you pseudo-intellectuals prefer to call it "social justice"

      • BR549

        The browning of America is happening because the white middle class has stopped having children or they have only one. They're too consumed with having themselves a good time and trying to keep up with the Jones' instead or making raising a family their top priority. The only whites who are reproducing are the poorest and least educated among us, which does not bode well.

        • Silas Lynch

          Yes, and that too

        • Aaron

          So, that's all well and good but I'm wondering regarding to your claim that this administration is cracking down on these law judges, where can I find that information. I'm just curious because everything I'm seeing says these crackdowns go back to House Oversight Committees.

          • Aaron

            Everything I read said its results from the House oversight committee. I realize that federal law judges are part of the executive branch but from my research, this process began as a result of inquiries from the House committee.

          • mntnman

            Aaron, the % of awards is dropping yearly. Someone is telling somebody to stop granting benefits.

  • CaptainQ

    Hoppy, this guy not only slept on the job, he also seemed to be 'sleepwalking' on his duties as well. Why is it that 'government' and 'incompetence' often walk hand in hand in West Virginia?

  • The bookman

    Is it news that our disability system is abused? Not for anyone who has lived in WV for any length of time. In a state that leads the nation with the worst labor participation rate, at just over half the population, these folks would be in the safety net somewhere. The best participation rate is closer to 75% of working age adults, and until we can change the mentality of people in this state that they are personally responsible to provide for themselves, we can continue to lead the nation in such categories. There should be a safety net for the truly disabled among us, but half the population of working age adults finds itself there, and many are lounging in the hammock of these public services.

  • Hop'sHip

    This guy seems like a regular Ripoff Van Winkle.

    • Debra

      Good one Hop's

    • Wirerowe

      Once a punster always punster. Good one Hops. But don't get too cocky. I will tell you when you come up with a bad one. Have a great Thursday. As to the story of the day what is the recourse for the judge's actions ? 60 days suspension. Good grief.

  • Katydids

    I've paid into social security for 46 years and began claiming it for the first time in May after I retired. However, the social security office failed to tell me that I had made over the maximum for the year and shouldn't start the benefits until next January. Now, I have to repay almost $7000! Guess they need it to pay Social Security Disability claims in West Virginia thanks to Judge Harry Taylor. Maybe I can just send my payments directly to one of the losers that he granted a windfall!

    • Gary R

      Katydids the same thing happened to me a couple of years ago. They gave me wrong information and said I could do what you did. A year later they said I couldn't and Owed 5000 which they are taking out of my check 163 a month till next March. I appealed but to know avail They told me I misunderstood their people. Their workers don't even know the rules..

    • Eric

      Actually knowing the rules before you retired would have been smart.

      • Katydids

        I DID go to the SS office for their "expert" opinion prior to applying for my check. The advice I received from the experts was bogus. But, now YOU know and won't have an excuse for making the same mistake, Eric. Hope the money is there when its your turn to draw!

  • Katydids

    Guess the third time is still the charm with Social Security Disability in West Virginia!

  • The Answer

    This very judge gave a cousin of mine total disability, because get this, he could no longer handle the mental stress of day to day job.
    But, now he has the mental stress of hunting, fishing and drinking beer all day.
    Go figure..

    • Lisa

      Ignorant

    • Benthere

      Typical West Virginian if the statistics are correct.

    • Silas Lynch

      Mental stress of Hunting? Hopefully he's hunting with a sling-shot because if he is receiving disability benefits on bases a mental fatigue----He shouldn't be owning or having a firearm... As an NRA member-- I support that and so do all my brethren

      • Debra

        Got to agree with Silas on this one.