Tilting at Windmills

January/February 2012 Pension rackets

By Charles Peters

A recent study of the Washington area’s Metro system of subways and buses identified a serious problem of worker fatigue. Surprisingly, it turns out that pensions are a contributing factor. Employees can boost their pensions by concentrating their overtime in their final three years of service, which is what determines the amount of their pension. The result is a worker too tired to do a job who later receives an inflated pension.

Another even greater cause of inflated pensions was recently reported by William K. Rashbaum and Mosi Secret of the New York Times: “an enormous fraud scheme in which hundreds of Long Island Rail Road workers falsely claimed to have disabling injuries.”

I can tell you that this same racket is common among police and fire department retirees, who often have friendly physicians deem them disabled while, as the Times reports of the Long Island workers, they’re “regularly playing golf.”

This problem is compounded by the fact that public safety employees are often permitted to retire after just twenty years of service.

Charles Peters is the founding editor of the Washington Monthly and the author of a new book on Lyndon B. Johnson published by Times Books.

Comments

  • wordtypist on January 31, 2012 12:32 PM:

    The same phenomenon occurs in the military. I know at least a few instances military people are on flying status and receiving flight pay until just before they retire. They they get a disability retirement.