Social Security Administration (SSA) officials paid $5.3 million to 46 employees placed on administrative leave — a tool generally used for workers suspected of misconduct — for months or even years, according to a new SSA Inspector General (IG) report.
The agency ultimately terminated 22 of those employees, while eight retired, eight resigned, and seven returned to work between 2009 and 2015, but not before some of them received hundreds of thousands of dollars. The IG, which only analyzed employees who had at least 1,000 hours of paid administrative leave, criticized SSA for failing to document approval from regional commissioners in eight of those cases, contrary to SSA policy.
But the IG — despite the hundreds of thousands of dollars SSA paid for years in some cases — generally agreed with SSA’s use of administrative leave, saying, “grants of leave in these cases were within management officials’ discretion and authority.”
Twelve of those cases involved administrative law judges, who are much harder to fire, according to the IG. One such judge, Sridhar Boini, received more than $500,000 over four years after he assaulted two coworkers, one in 2011 and one in 2012. Bioni pleaded guilty to one count of indecent assault in 2013 as a part of a plea bargain. But the SSA continued paying him until he exhausted the appeal of his firing in 2016.
Bioni received more than any other SSA employee on administrative leave in the period the IG examined. The Daily Caller News Foundation’s Investigative group previously reported the judge’s misconduct, but the IG report revealed his administrative leave pay. (RELATED: Drunk Disability Judge Assaulted Officers, Wants Benefits For Alcoholism)
The IG recommended that SSA deputy commissioners approve and document all grants of administrative leave more than 40 hours. The agency agreed.
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