With all of the focus lately on Judge Daugherty's high disability approval rates and the SSA's outcry against the low percentage of claims that he actually denies, one must ask whether there is too much scrutiny being placed on the judge. After all, no one is scrutinizing the judges with abnormally high denial rates. How can one end of the spectrum be criticized without an investigation of the other?
There is quite a bit of controversy over whether or not Judge Daugherty should be punished for his abnormally high approval rates. Some accuse the judge of working under the table with a Kentucky Social Security Disability attorney. The attorney and the judge both deny any such wrongdoing. In fact, Judge Daugherty insists that his high approval rate is due to the area of the country in which he hears cases. Many of the applicants that he sees have, at the most, a fourth-grade education level. It is impossible for these individuals to maintain any type of gainful employment if they are unable to perform menial physical labor.
If the judge is not performing any unethical activities and is merely being punished for an abnormally high approval rate, shouldn't the judges on the opposite end of the spectrum be punished as well? What about the judges who award cases at a rate much lower than the average? Shouldn't they face the same consequences that are being faced by Judge Daugherty?
While some might say that Judge Daugherty is too sympathetic to the claimants to whom he awards disability benefits, others could say that the judges with extraordinarily low approval rates look upon their claimants with disdain. Since personal opinion would be swaying the outcome of these cases as well, isn't it only fair that both ends of the gamut are punished equally?
We all understand that the Social Security Administration is suffering from financial setbacks, and this may account for why Judge Daugherty's approval rate is being frowned upon. However, the Social Security Disability program is there to protect disabled workers. Judges who do not grant benefits when benefits are warranted should also be investigated. The Social Security Administration should not turn a blind eye just because these judges are keeping taxpayer money in the Social Security coffers.