Government Reform

I've Been Collecting Disability from the Long Island Rail Road, All the Live-Long Day…

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Alan Vanneman tips us toward this story of a different sort of government-funded bailout:

As former [Long Island Rail Road] workers were arriving to file new disability claims, investigators showed up and closed the office in Westbury, eventually carting out nine file boxes and five personal computers.

The raid came two days after The New York Times reported that nearly all career employees of the railroad—from 93 percent to 97 percent of retirees every year since 2000—retire early and soon after begin getting disability payments from the federal agency [the Railroad Retirement Board, which adminsters such claims]. The retirement board almost never turns down a claim, and since 2000 has paid more than a quarter of a billion dollars in disability checks to former Long Island Rail Road workers, The Times found.

More here.

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  1. How come I’m never in on the scams!!!! Do I have narc written across my forehead or something?

  2. Conceptually speaking, since disability checks are supposed to be income replacement, how can anyone who is being paid retirement benefits also be pulling disability?

    Oh, and I hope they prosecute these double-dipping fuckers. Fraud is fraud.

    The grand jury should also take a good hard look at the people approving these disability claims. I know that out here in The Real World, getting and keeping medical approval for disability is a bitch.

  3. And this is surprising?

    Disability is the new social security. Everyone eventually gets it anymore. My dad spent two years in German prison camp during WWII and pretty much every ailment he was diagnosed with by the VA was shoehorned in as a ‘service related disability’. And this wasn’t pushed by my dad, this was just the VA bureacracy that declared it so. It’s a rubber stamping operation. The only consolation is that if everyone does it, then it’s just part of the system. Higher taxes, bigger government, rinse, repeat.

  4. How so totally unsurprising and how very New York.

    The MTA runs the LIRR. I’ve never taken it (I drove a Mercedes to the Hamptons, biatch), but I do have to give Metro-North credit–even though they are a money hole, they are on fucking time. Is the LIRR the same way?

  5. Oh, and I hope they prosecute these double-dipping fuckers. Fraud is fraud.

    I can’t speak for this particular case, but double-dipping has been allowed by law over the last 10 or 15 years. I know for a fact they changed their rule for military retirees.

  6. Nick, We’re going to be out a Trillion dollars. Let this one go. For God’s sake, I’m begging you, no more stories like this for today.

  7. Oh, railroads: Quasi-government entities.

    ’nuff said.

  8. Don:

    Incorrect. The initial price tag is $700 billion. After tax, title, license, options, inflation and interest, the price tag will be much bigger.

  9. But, but, but, these are hard working middle class folks who have devoted their lives and yes, their very health, to ensure that we can all benefit from America’s railroad system. They deesrve anything they can get from the government.

    From the Railroad Retirement Board website,

    Benefitting the Rail Industry Since 1935

    Maybe that should read

    Screwing the Taxpayer Since FDR.

  10. Incorrect. The initial price tag is $700 billion. After tax, title, license, options, inflation and interest, the price tag will be much bigger.

    The over/under is one terabuck $1,000,000,000,000. I’m taking the over.

  11. Is the LIRR the same way?

    Not to often on time, they don’t call it the Long Island Snail Road for nothing.

  12. Let me clarify:

    Sure, drawing disability and retirement at the same time is allowed, even though its an obvious ripoff.

    But in order to do so, you need to be, you know, disabled. Medically. No fucking way 95% of these retirees are medically disabled. That’s the fraud that should be prosecuted.

  13. Epi,

    The NYT article says that Metro North employees apply for far fewer disability claims. Something about the LIRR makes it a fraud magnet.

  14. Something about the LIRR makes it a fraud magnet

    Probably the fact that it is on Long Island.

  15. You people think the mortgage bailout is bad, wait until all of the state and local pension plans go belly up. All over America public employee unions have been getting double digit raises for their employees for going on decades now. The good economic growth we have had over the last 25 years has allowed the governments to pay the salaries. But, since retirement obligations are based on a set percentage of wages, the wage increases have translated into an enormous pension burden. Most state and local pension funds are wildly underfunded and facing insolvency over the next 10 or 20 years.

  16. San Diego is pretty much already insolvent due to its pension obligations. A bankruptcy filing would be a mere formality.

  17. Didn’t a California town just declare bankruptcy due directly to its generous public sector contracts?

  18. What do you think about *that,* you free-market fundamentalists? Even you must acknowledge that the government must intervene to prevent this ripoff by the corporate fat-cats at the LIRR!

    (Note to the humor-impaired: I am kidding.)

  19. I drove a Mercedes to the Hamptons, biatch

    Pretty soon, that’ll be the only option, the way things are going. I wonder how all the servants are going to get to work.

  20. I wonder how all the servants are going to get to work.

    I get there in an ’04 Jeep Liberty. And before that, an ’88 Corolla.

  21. Come on, let’s see you blame the free market for this one.

  22. Is the LIRR the same way?

    it is sometimes on time. it is always filled with assholes, though.

    STRONG ISLAND!

  23. There are essentially two different employment laws in the country: railroads and everyone else. The railroad laws generally predate the other.

    The generally fucked state of American railroads, particularly the Eastern ones, since WW2 can be generally laid at the door of over-regulation, as well as Federal funding of the competition (interstate highway system). Sure, the industry would have been in a state of contraction, but its ability to adjust to changing times was very much hampered by regulations that assumed that the railroads were always going to be rich and powerful.

  24. Re: something about the LIRR makes it a fraud magnet?
    Possible reasons:
    One rotten apple in the barrel ruins the others.
    Birds of a feather flock together.
    Greed and dishonesty run in families.

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