News and Commentary Archive

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Flaws Persist in L.I.R.R.’s Disability Claims, a Report Finds

By Walt Bogdanich | The New York Times | February 21, 2014

A federal watchdog has concluded that the method of granting occupational disability payments to former employees of the Long Island Rail Road is still so flawed that roughly 96 percent of those who apply receive it, roughly the same approval rate as before a vast cheating scandal was first exposed more than five years ago.

Citing his legal obligation to report “particularly serious or flagrant problems,” Martin J. Dickman, the inspector general for the United States Railroad Retirement Board, wrote to the board on Feb. 10, saying he would recommend that the occupational disability program be terminated or severely cut back if significant changes were not made quickly.

The disability fraud at the railroad was revealed in 2008 by The New York Times, which found that virtually every career employee at the railroad was collecting disability payments after retiring early. By claiming disability, the workers were also allowed to play golf for free on state-owned courses. At the time, the railroad’s occupational disability rate was three to four times that of the average railroad. Continue reading »