NY Rail Retirees in Disability Scam Lose Benefits
Nearly 600 retirees of a major New York commuter railroad are losing their disability benefits in the wake of a widespread scandal that has cost hundreds of millions of dollars and seen at least one physician sent to prison, a federal official said Tuesday.
The decision to cut off the benefits was made last week at a U.S. Railroad Retirement Board meeting in Chicago, said Martin Dickman, inspector general for the board. The action follows last month's sentencing of a physician who admitted inventing "narratives" to justify claims for hundreds of corrupt Long Island Rail Road workers trying to retire on disability for more than a decade.Apparently folks got suspicious when one of the "permanently disabled" workers participated in a 400 mile bicycle race. Go figure. A review of the cases, particularly those seen by a certain doctor, revealed numerous cases where sudden, miraculous recoveries were shown only after the disability claim was received and the person in question retired on a disability pension.
These types of cases are particularly galling, as they not only defraud the honest people in the system, but they also make it that much harder for legitimate cases of on-the-job disability to proceed. When there is a massive, concerted effort to defraud the system, one so pervasive and all-encompassing, legitimate cases of disability are naturally going to suffer as a result. Each new case is going to be scrutinized to the nth degree; every person coming forward is going to be suspect.
All because unscrupulous people had no qualms about gaming the system, and the system provided too few checks against fraud.
When Dad G. was running an active private investigation business, he received a number of fradulent workman's compensation cases. In many cases, a short stakeout would yield sufficient evidence to dispute the claim of disability - including one person who was out on a back claim who was allegedly bed-ridden with pain. Dad's partner caught this person at Logan Airport carrying not one but two large suitcases and walking at a brisk clip.
Now, getting caught's not the surprising part here. What's surprising is that they actually lost their pensions. What I wonder, though, is that while they're certain to lose the disability pension - after all, it's been proven that the disability was faulty - will they now have to go back to work? Wouldn't it be a kick in the teeth if hundreds of fraudsters suddenly showed back up on the job tomorrow? Even better, what about the folks hired to replace those out on disability? Will they be furloughed to make room for those returning employees?
I'd like to think that the fradulent disability claiming employees would be summarily terminated; however knowing that they're lifelong union employees makes it unlikely. I suspect they'll find their way back into the work force, where a sizable number will either pull future scams when they think folks have forgotten, or they'll garner actual on-the-job injuries to go back on disability. It's unfortunate that there appears to be no prosecution for fraud - although at least the doctor who falsified the disability claims is seeing the inside of a cell...
If folks put the same amount of energy into their jobs as they did trying to get out of them...
That is all.