Continued from page 1

Several high-profile disability fraud cases have contributed to concerns.

In this latest case, the whistleblower employees painted a picture of a system out of control and more focused on meeting numerical quotas than in getting decisions right.

Sarah Carver, a senior case technician at the Huntington office, testified that the judges would approve cases in one month but not finalize them because they already had met that month’s quota. Instead, they would “bank” the other decisions for the next month — which meant disability beneficiaries ended up waiting for checks that the agency already determined they deserved.

After Mr. Conn and Judge Daugherty began to suspect she had been a source for The Wall Street Journal report, Ms. Carver said, she faced brutal retaliation, including a private investigator who was hired to follow her and try to catch her violating agency telework rules.

Members of the committee said that when they couldn’t find evidence, they tried to fabricate it.

“Management has been allowed to harass, intimidate, stalk, discipline, ostracize, monitor and make my life as miserable as possible for the last seven years,” Ms. Carver testified. “I still fear for my safety and the safety of my family.”

The cover-up of the racket, as described by the women, was just as stunning.

The employees said the agency office began to destroy computer hard drives by smashing them with hammers and later burning them, and shredding mountains of documents.

The employees also said the two key people in the scam, Mr. Conn and Judge Daugherty, bought disposable cellphones so their conversations couldn’t be tracked. At one point, one of the employees said, the judge called the lawyer from a non-disposable phone and they had to go out and buy new phones because the errant phone call had created a connection that made the old phones toxic.

In an emailed statement to The Washington Times, Social Security spokesman Mark Hinkle said privacy laws prevented the agency from talking about specific personnel matters in the Huntington office, but said the agency doesn’t tolerate retaliatory behavior.

“It is the policy of the Social Security Administration to maintain a work environment that is free from harassment or retaliation,” he said.

The agency declined to send witnesses to testify at Monday’s hearing in the middle of the government shutdown, but Mr. Carper said the government witnesses would testify once the shutdown ends.