A Kentucky-based psychologist was convicted in federal court Monday of his role in an eight-year scheme to defraud the Social Security Administration of $600 million.
Let me repeat that – $600 million in taxpayer cash was fraudulently stolen from the Social Security program, and it took eight years for the government to catch it.
According to the Justice Department, 45-year-old psychologist Alfred Bradley Adkins collaborated with David Black Daugherty, now a former SSA administrative law judge, and attorney-turned-plot mastermind Eric Christopher Conn to file false disability claims and collect some serious government loot. Together, the group filed retroactive disability entitlement claims for about 2,000 people, regardless of whether the claimants actually qualified for it or not.
Adkins would sign the medical forms, Daugherty would sign off on the claims, and Conn would file the claims and collect the cash.
According to the DOJ, Conn raked in $7.5 million in taxpayer dollars for attorney’s fees over eight years.
Conn reportedly paid Dougherty $600,000 to approve the false claims between 2004 and 2012. He paid Adkins a total of $200,000 to create and sign the bogus medical forms.
Over the eight-year scam, federal officials said the Social Security Administration paid over $600 million in fraudulent benefit claims, on top of Conn’s attorney’s fees.
And, if that weren’t a giant bowl of peaches in itself, Conn, who pled guilty to his part in the whole shebang back in March, apparently broke out of his ankle monitor earlier this month and is currently at large. So there’s that.
According to the DOJ, this conspiracy marks the single greatest fraud scheme in the history of the Social Security Administration.
Beyond the obvious, of course, none of this bodes well for those of us – meaning everyone – who pay into Social Security. The program, first started back during the Great Depression, is now quite anything but voluntary – and it’s going broke. Congressional Budget Office projections predict the program’s combined Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) and Disability Insurance trust fund will be depleted by 2029, while the combined trust fund will be exhausted by 2034.
At best, Social Security's trustees estimate the program will only be able to pay only about 75 cents on the dollar by 2034, according to a very optimistic report by USA Today. So if that weren’t enough to think about every time you see that SSA chunk taken out of your paycheck, now you get to worry about the obvious lack of oversight into where all this dough is being funneled.
It’s sad when $600 million seems like a paltry drop in the bucket for the federal government, whose annual budget runs nearly $4 trillion. Still, when a couple of guys in Kentucky can get away with pilfering millions in taxpayer cash from a major government program for eight years before getting busted, there’s plenty of cause to be concern – especially for a program that’s already in trouble.