The biggest transit story over the last few days has been the investigation into the LIRR as to whether or not employees purposely lied & manipulated their way into receiving disability payments. In continuing with this story, yesterday’s edition of the New York Daily News had a strongly worded editorial on the situation. Here is a sample of it:
Thousands of retired Long Island Rail Road employees are riding a gravy train that’s soaking taxpayers for millions – with the full complicity of the federal government.
A scathing report in The New York Times bares the shocking scam perpetrated by able-bodied LIRR workers who retire and then declare themselves disabled – eligible for federal benefits worth tens of thousands of dollars a year. Even more outrageous, the Railroad Retirement Board routinely approves their claims, on the flimsiest of evidence.
It has got to stop.
The average disability payment for an LIRR worker hired before 1988, who retired as early as age 50 with 20 years’ service, is $3,000 a month. Since 2000, that has totaled about a quarter-billion dollars to LIRR retirees.
Many of these supposedly disabled people use the same doctors and submit nearly identical applications. The board never seems to check their claims. Accordingly, many of these hurting retirees can be found playing golf on a Long Island course that’s free for the disabled.
Long Island Rep. Steve Israel has called for congressional hearings, and state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is investigating.
Meanwhile, the state and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority must also take a hard look at contract provisions that let LIRR employees who are still on the job rob the public blind – by earning multiple days’ pay for a single day’s work.
Click here for the complete editorial.