HUNTINGTON – A chief Social Security administrative judge has stepped down in the midst of a federal investigation into a subordinate judge's high rate of benefits awarded in the last year.

Chief Administrative Judge Charlie Andrus, who has been chief judge in Huntington since 1997, stepped down after it came to light that Huntington Judge David B. Daugherty was awarding disability benefits to petitioners in each of the 729 cases he had heard in the first half of 2011. Andrus was Daugherty's supervisor.

Andrus stepped down from his administrative duties, but remains as a judge. His decision to step down was voluntary.

In the last 18 months, Daugherty only rejected four of 2,104 cases. The national average for judges is approximately 60 percent.

Daugherty was placed on administrative leave in late May by the Social Security Administration after an article was published in The Wall Street Journal detailing the unusually high number of disability benefits applications and his decisions.

He is also facing accusations of frequently taking cases that were not assigned to him and supposedly having an arrangement with an attorney who specializes in disability cases.

Daugherty said the judges are under pressure from the Social Security Administration to move the backlog of cases and that he resorted to using quicker methods other judges opted not to use.

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