New York Governor Paterson Calls On Congress, MTA Inspector General To Aid In Investigation Of Long Island Rail Road Disability Payments

                               

Albany, NY (CompNewsNetwork) - New York Governor David A. Paterson has expanded his call for an investigation into allegations of fraud in the disability payments made to retirees of the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR). The Governor called on Congress to look into the workings of the federal Railroad Retirement Board, and ascertain how such a high percentage of LIRR workers were provided disability retirement benefits post-retirement, when the employees had not been deemed disabled at the time of their retirement. He also directed the MTA's Inspector General to review the operating practices of the LIRR in making work assignments to determine if the LIRR can control costs and the high annual payments made to certain employees within existing work rules and union agreements.

On Sunday, the Governor referred the matter to the state Attorney General's office, empowering Attorney General Andrew Cuomo to conduct an investigation with subpoena power to call those who possibly committed a crime to appear before a grand jury.

“Given the layers of government involved in creating what appears to be an inexcusable and excessive payment of disability benefits, it is imperative that my colleagues in the federal government and within the MTA participate in this investigation,” said Governor Paterson.

Governor Paterson also asked for full cooperation with the investigation being conducted by Attorney General Cuomo. The letters are attached below.


September 23, 2008

Barry Kluger
MTA Inspector General
2 Penn Plaza
New York, New York 10121

Re: L.I.RR. Disability Payments to Retirees

Dear Mr. Kluger:

As you know, a recent New York Times article reported an unusually high number of disability claims being made by recently retired Long Island Rail Road (L.I.R.R.) employees. I have requested the New York State Attorney General to undertake an investigation to determine the reasons for and the processes involved by which it appears that such a disproportionately high percentage of retired employees apply for and receive these disability payments and provided the AG powers pursuant to Executive Law § 63(3).

The article also pointed out that many employees receive payments far in excess of their annual base salary based upon work rules and union agreements, and that these levels of compensation increase the employee's LIRR retirement, at a cost to the taxpayers and the LIRR customers. I request that your office undertake a review of the operating practices of the LIRR in making work assignments to determine if the LIRR can, within existing work rules and union agreements, control these high payments, and make any recommendations you see fit based upon this review or similar reviews by your office in the past.

I also request that you cooperate with the investigation by the Attorney General and any federal officials.

Very truly yours,

David A. Paterson
Governor

September 23, 2008

Hon. James Oberstar, Chairman
Hon. John Mica, Ranking Member
House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee
2165 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Re: L.I.RR. Disability Payments to Retirees

Dear Congressmen Oberstar and Mica,

As you know, a recent New York Times article reported an unusually high number of disability claims being made by recently retired Long Island Rail Road (L.I.R.R.) employees. I have requested the New York State Attorney General to undertake an investigation to determine the reasons for and the processes involved by which it appears that such a disproportionately high percentage of retired employees apply for and receive these disability payments and provided the AG powers pursuant to Executive Law § 63(3).

I respectfully request that your committee look into the practices of the Railroad Retirement Board and investigate why such a high percentage of LIRR workers are provided disability retirement benefits post retirement when they had not been deemed disabled at the time of their retirement.

Very truly yours,

David A. Paterson
Governor

September 23, 2008

Sen. Edward Kennedy, Chairman
Sen. Michael Enzi, Ranking Member
Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions
428 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Re: L.I.RR. Disability Payments to Retirees

Dear Senators Kennedy and Enzi,

As you know, a recent New York Times article reported an unusually high number of disability claims being made by recently retired Long Island Rail Road (L.I.R.R.) employees. I have requested the New York State Attorney General to undertake an investigation to determine the reasons for and the processes involved by which it appears that such a disproportionately high percentage of retired employees apply for and receive these disability payments and provided the AG powers pursuant to Executive Law § 63(3).

I respectfully request that your committee look into the practices of the Railroad Retirement Board and investigate why such a high percentage of LIRR workers are provided disability retirement benefits post retirement, when they had not been deemed disabled at the time of their retirement.

Very truly yours,

David A. Paterson
Governor

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