L.I. Railroad Retirees May Be Abusing Their Benefits

After a New York Times article revealed an 'epidemic' of disability claims for retired employees of the Long Island Rail Road (the nation's largest commuter railroad), NY Governor Paterson announced he would have AG Cuomo launch an investigation.
September 23, 2008, 6am PDT | Irvin Dawid
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N.Y. "Gov. David A. Paterson said on Sunday (9/21) that he would give Andrew M. Cuomo, the state's attorney general, broad powers... to investigate how disability and pension benefits were potentially manipulated by L.I.R.R. supervisors, workers and retirees.

The governor's action comes after The New York Times reported that virtually every career employee of the railroad applies for and gets disability payments soon after retirement at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars in federal disability money. The disability claims are paid by an obscure federal agency called the Railroad Retirement Board.

A senior state official said that the governor would also ask Congress and the United States attorney general to review the role played by the Railroad Retirement Board, which almost never says no to disability claims."

The high rate of disability pensions awarded to former L.I.R.R. employees by this governmental body is alarming and out of sync with our workplace safety record, the (L.I.R.R.) said.

From NYT: "A Disability Epidemic Among a Railroad's Retirees", 9/21:

"Virtually every career employee - as many as 97 percent in one recent year - applies for and gets disability payments soon after retirement, a computer analysis of federal records by The New York Times has found.

At an age when most people still work, they get a pension and tens of thousands of dollars in annual disability payments - a sum roughly equal to the base salary of their old jobs.

With incentives like these, occupational disabilities at the L.I.R.R. have become a full-blown epidemic."

Thanks to Mark Boshnack

Full Story:
Published on Monday, September 22, 2008 in The New York Times
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