July 22, 2011

Oh, the Pain - Warwick Disability Pensions: Fire Exceed 40% (Don't Forget the Police @ 20%)

Monique Chartier

Looks like the Warwick Beacon has been doing some digging at City Hall.

More than 40 percent of retired Warwick firefighters and 20 percent of retired police are on disability pensions. The pensions are tax-free and also ensure that their children and spouse are entitled to free tuition at state colleges. There has never been a case where they have been brought back to work, according to the recollection of City Personnel Director Oscar Shelton.

The killer is how the disability pension becomes permanent: all the employee has to do is complain about pain.

Shelton says the scenario he offers is typical:

A firefighter is injured on the job and is put on injured leave at full pay. After a time, the firefighter seems to be better, but complains of pain. Bringing him or her back for a job less physically demanding would make sense, but the individual could still complain of pain. Doctors’ opinions vary and there’s no definitive test.

Meanwhile, firefighters covering for the absent member cost the department overtime while the disabled officer gets full time pay. The chief looks to reduce costs and knows placing the firefighter on disability pension would cut costs by nearly 33 percent immediately. The chief makes his recommendation to the Board of Public Safety. The firefighter goes on disability pension.

“It’s a short term solution for the department but long term cost to the city,” said Shelton.

No kidding. If you don't check, lots of people are going to jump on the gravy train - at least, until it hits the bankruptcy abutment.

Comments, although monitored, are not necessarily representative of the views Anchor Rising's contributors or approved by them. We reserve the right to delete or modify comments for any reason.

Whenever we question our resident union commenters about the literally incredible disability statistics of their departments for current pensioners - incontrovertible evidence of fraud taking place on a massive scale - their responses are always the same: "Ho hum, not my problem." Well, actually, it is your problem, because now there is no money left for anyone else. Your retired-at-43 union brothers complaining of restless leg syndrome and fibromyalgia have completely drained the reservoir, and even the city's contributions accompanied with a substantial tax increase couldn't plug that ever-increasing structural deficit. If we saw your union working with the city to reduce the systemic fraud, then it would have more credibility, but all we hear are complaints about the city not making required contributions that border on irrelevant to the real economic discussion.

Posted by: Dan at July 22, 2011 9:04 AM

The next step for the Beacon would be to see if any of these disabled fire and police are working another job somewhere. I'm guessing that if they're receiving a disability pension, there's no requirement that they live in RI. So why not take your nice pension, move to some other state and start working again? Who's going to go all the way to California or Montana or Texas to find them on the job? Does Warwick actually check to see if they're collecting any other income elsewhere?

Posted by: Patrick at July 22, 2011 9:31 AM

Projo will find a way to blame Cianci.
In projoland rich WASPS and gays have lifetime free passes for corruption, incompetence, cronyism and sleaze.

Posted by: Tommy Cranston at July 22, 2011 9:41 AM

Here I am, union hack reporting for duty! Where in this article is the "incontrovertible evidence of fraud taking place on a massive scale" that you talk about? Some guys gets a disability pension and is caught working out in a gym-definite fraud. Guy suffers injury on duty, goes out injured, rehabs the injury, comes back to work, later reaggrevates the injury doing the same job over and over again and then takes a pension-not fraud.
And as myself and others have always said on these pages, we're all for going after questionable disability pensions, they don't help anyone in the system.

Posted by: sierra1 at July 22, 2011 10:03 AM

The more light shed on this the better. We don't want fraud in our system. It kills the system, ruins morale and opens up our profession to ridicule. I've seen a lot of firefighters=s get hurt, badly hurt over the years. It's not up to me to decide if they come back, it's up to them, and sound medical facts.

Posted by: michael at July 22, 2011 10:56 AM

1 in 6 (or is it 7?) jobs in RI are public sector jobs of some sort.

pension fraud is rampant, and WE ALL KNOW IT. Just some of us aren't willing to ADMIT it.

FREE INstate tuition for your dog and your neighbors kid if you're on on on a disability pension.

It's a JOKE, and we ALL KNOW IT.

Should there be disability pensions for FF and Police?? absolutely, I agree 100%. both ARE dangerous jobs.

Will the % of disability jobs for FF and police differ from the general public? yes, probably, we all can agree they are dangerous jobs.

Should the % (and overall number) of disability pensions be ANYWHERE close to where it is now?

We ALL know the answer to this question is NO.

It's the same old, same old, FYPM method.

Screw you, pay me.

Are there ways to address this situation, or course, but we're just too corrupt around here to think that it will get fixed.

It's stealing, plain and simple, and everyone knows it.

Posted by: stuckhereinri at July 22, 2011 12:38 PM

Sierra - 50%+ of retirees from the Providence Fire Department collecting disability pensions is prima facie fraud. I don't have to delve into specific cases (like Sauro); the numbers are completely laughable and incredible on their face. I know what's going on. They know what's going on. Pretending like it's legitimate is just an insult to everyone's intelligence. The union has a moral imperative to get involved and partner with the city to stamp it out - yes, this will mean going against long-time dues-paying members. Until that happens, and they continue just complaining about the city's contributions, I'll consider them willfully ignorant *at best.*

Posted by: Dan at July 22, 2011 2:47 PM

Wink,Wink,Nod,Nod......almost every FF knows how easy it it is..."Pain" How are you going to prove someone is not in pain? Well the taxpayers are in pain. Fraud causes pain. Watching someone get away with a crime causes pain. There's plenty of pain to go around and the legitimate taxpayer is paying for it. Wink,wink,nod,nod.

Posted by: ANTHONY at July 22, 2011 8:01 PM
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