Why Did Judge Charlie Andrus Step Down?

Submitted by Chris on

There is no doubt that the Social Security Administration is inundated with problems. Recently, Charlie Andrus, the Chief Social Security Administration judge in Huntington, West Virginia, has stepped down from his post due to political issues within the disability program and a federal probe into the actions of one of the judges under his supervision.

David Daugherty, one of the judges whom Charlie Andrus was in charge of supervising, was put on indefinite administrative leave because the SSA felt that this judge was awarding benefits to too many Social Security Disability applicants. It appears that the SSA was not fond of the fact that Mr. Daugherty decided in favor of the disability applicant in nearly all of the cases he heard. To raise the eyebrows of the SSA even further, this judge not only heard his own cases, but also heard cases that were assigned to other judges as well as cases that had yet to be assigned in his hearing office.

Why would a high award ratio result in a federal probe and suspicion on the part of the SSA? What it comes down to is that disability benefits were awarded to applicants in almost all of the cases that Mr. Daugherty heard. However, this is not the sole reason for the probe. The fact that Mr. Daugherty heard cases that were not even assigned to him raised suspicions even more. When compared to the national average approval rate of 60 percent, Mr. Daugherty's nearly 100 percent approval rate does indeed seem out of the norm.

So why did Mr. Andrus step down when it was Mr. Daugherty who was placed on administrative leave? It appears that his ability to act responsibly as a Chief Judge had been put into question. Several individuals are alleging that Mr. Andrus failed to act on the suspicious activities of Mr. Daugherty because the judge helped the office meet its monthly goals, overlooking the fact that nearly every case the judge heard was being awarded to the disability applicants.

Mr. Andrus has replied that he does not make it a practice of asking other judges why they decide cases the way they do. He did say, however, that he was notified that Mr. Daugherty was taking cases that were assigned to other judges or cases that had yet to be assigned. On April 29, 2011, Judge Andrus issued a written directive stating that no case was to be reassigned without his express permission.

Unfortunately, Mr. Andrus did not seem happy about the way the investigation of Mr. Daugherty, and his office in general, was being handled. In light of the investigation into the matters, Mr. Andrus voluntarily stepped down from his position as Chief Judge. He will, however, remain working in his capacity as a judge for the SSA.

Mr. Andrus denies any knowledge of illegal activities on the part of Mr. Daugherty, although there is a federal investigation as to whether or not Mr. Daugherty may have been working with area disability attorneys for monetary compensation. While Mr. Andrus did not take part in any of the actions performed by Mr. Daugherty, the fact that Mr. Daugherty was under his supervision when these actions took place put his own credibility into question. As a result, Mr. Andrus felt it would be best to step down, while still providing services as a judge to the agency.

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