Report: Harrisburg judge leads country in Social Security disability awards

By Jim Boyle | May 16, 2014

If you are out of work and looking to apply for Social Security disability payments, Harrisburg Judge Charles Bridges is the person you want to see, according to a report by CBS 21 in Harrisburg.

According to the news station, Bridges has awarded approximately $4.6 billion in taxpayer money to 15,279 claimants in the last 10 years, the highest in the country and nearly two times the number of approvals than the next highest, Harry Taylor of West Virginia.

Bridges would not comment on the story, but a lawyer confirmed to CBS 21 that Bridges is one of the federal judges she wants to see the most when helping her clients receive disability payments.

The Oregonian ran a similar report in 2008, reporting on Bridges' high production rate that showed he awarded an average of $250,000 to 2,285 in one year, eight times the agency's average. Bridges told reporters that he worked hard, including nights and weekends, to sift through the cases.

Frank Cristaudo, the Social Security agency's chief administrative law judge, told the Oregonian in 2008 that an investigation into high-producing judges had been performed and no wrongdoing had been found. However, CBS 21 reports, Judge Jasper Bede, the Chief Disability Judge in Pennsylvania, testified before the Congressional Oversight Committee that Bridges' rulings were an "embarrassment."

Bridges' position as a chief administrative law judge is a lifetime appointment and he has the authority to approve disability claims at his own discretion without threat of disciplinary action.

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