MCNTalk previously discussed the abuse of the disability system at the Long Island Rail Road. With this follow-up we see hundreds having their benefits cut off and reference is made to one doctor going to jail. While we have not followed this story closely, the article begs a number of questions:
- Who else if anything was held to account for this glaring abuse? Reference is made to another defendant in the case going to trial soon? How many defendants are there?
- For the Railroad Disability Board to not know or have reason to suspect abuse long ago is not credible. Is the leadership still in place? Ultimately the Board had to approve each application and there were individuals working there along with management who were fully aware of the nature of the claims. They were fully capable of using their heads to review and challenge. How many of the L.I.R.R. applicants had their claims reviewed and denied? What about other Railroad employees at other companies? Are their claims being similarly approved?
- Are managers at the L.I.R.R. who were involved in this travesty still working there and are any of them facing charges?
Lastly, let’s look to the 600 retirees losing their benefits. In the original Times article, we note the following:
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. Since 2000, those records show, about a quarter of a billion dollars in federal disability money has gone to former L.I.R.R. employees, including about 2,000 who retired during that time.
The L.I.R.R.’s disability rate suggests it is one of the nation’s most dangerous places to work. Yet in four of the last five years, the railroad has won national awards for improving worker safety.
“Short of the gulag, I can’t imagine any work force that would have a so-to-speak 90 percent disability attrition rate,” said Glenn Scammel, long one of Capitol Hill’s top experts on railroads. “That defies both logic and experience.”
Said Dr. J. Mark Melhorn, co-editor of a book on occupational disability published by the American Medical Association: “No one has a rate that high — that just doesn’t happen.”
Clearly those who applied for and received disability included a significant number of individuals who were engaged in fraud and theft from the government – from all of us. What is their punishment and account? To lose future benefits! How many if any will face prosecution and restitution? Just because everyone does it does not make it right. These individuals were not forced to apply for benefits and they were not forced to see particular doctors. They applied for benefits and most were fully aware of the scam they were engaged in.