A Question on Pensions

I actually agree with former Johnston Policewoman Michele Capelli’s lawyer that the town has no right to demand that she repay a disability pension excess that was given to her erroneously — much less simply remove it from her bank account — unless there was some criminal activity involved in giving her the money in the first place. Johnston should improve its system for tracking such things and move on from here.
But the same article gives some information for which, I realize, I’ve no basis to know how to feel:

As of June 30, 2009, the town had 27 disabled retirees earning an average monthly disability pension of $3,088, according to records.

An average of $37,000 per year isn’t all that much, assuming the retirees aren’t actually receiving the money as gravy on top of other income, and we should definitely provide for public servants who are hurt in the line of duty. But is that number of retirees high? I don’t know. Compared with my own experience in construction, it certainly seems like a lot of people to be paying for not working, but I wonder if a study has been done of other Rhode Island towns as well as municipalities in other states.
That’s really the relevant question, and it seems like the sort of thing that somebody in the press, the government bureaucracy, or a think tank should be concerned about. Oh, to have a think tank’s resources!

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Patrick
Patrick
11 years ago

Justin, how can you agree that she should not have to give back money that was given to her erroneously? That’s similar to me asking for $100 at an ATM and it spits out $1,000. Should I be able to keep that? Or if a human teller accidentally doesn’t notice that there’s an extra $20 bill stuck to the pile she gives me. I don’t have to pay that back?
And the lawyer: “You can’t go back and change the past,” Colucci said.
Really? I can think of a whole host of things that I’d like to ask him about with that comment.
If you get money that doesn’t belong to you, you should have to give it back.
As for the direct withdrawal from her account, that’s not right either. There’s got to be something illegal about that part.

Monique
Editor
11 years ago

“Oh, to have a think tank’s resources!”
H’mmm …

John
John
11 years ago

The reality is it’s too bad there even has to be an argument about it. A respectable citizen, who is aware of or once learns of an erroneous payment, should step up and volunteer to repay the taxpayers not argue they should be able to keep it if they weren’t entitled to the overpayment in the first place.
Just a sign of the times and our society I guess.

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