WASHINGTON – Congressman Tom Rice (R-S.C.) today introduced the Holding SSA Employees Accountable Act, legislation that prohibits Social Security Administration employees from receiving continued federal retirement benefits if they are convicted of a felony as it relates to their official job duties.
“One of my biggest problems with federal government agencies is that unelected bureaucrats are rarely held accountable for any wrongdoing,” said Congressman Rice. “It is outrageous that people like former Judge David Daugherty can help con the government out of $550 million in Social Security payments yet are still able to collect retirement benefits at taxpayers’ expense. It should be commonsense that if you are caught defrauding the government you shouldn’t continue to be rewarded with federal benefits.”
In recent years there have been massive fraud cases within the Social Security Administration (SSA) perpetrated by government employees, including the case of SSA Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) David Daugherty and a Kentucky disability lawyer named Eric Conn. Earlier this year, Mr. Conn, who called himself “Mr. Social Security,” and Mr. Daugherty pleaded guilty in a scam that would have obligated the federal government to pay roughly $550 million in fraudulent SSA disability claims. Mr. Daugherty, whose primary responsibility as a judge was to decide disability claims on behalf of the SSA, admitted to accepting over $600,000 in total cash payments for awarding benefits in over 3,100 cases brought forth by Mr. Conn.
At a Social Security Subcommittee hearing of the Ways & Means Committee last month, Sean Brune, assistant deputy commissioner at the Social Security Administration’s budget office, confirmed that the agency did not have the authority to revoke Mr. Daugherty’s government benefits even though he was convicted of defrauding the government. As the law stands now, the only way federal employees can lose their retirement benefits is through a criminal conviction for offenses related to treason and espionage.
The Holding SSA Employees Accountable Act would amend the Social Security Act to prohibit Social Security Administration employees who are found guilty of committing a felony as it relates to their job responsibilities from receiving continued federal retirement benefits.