Looking at the Working Disabled
Being categorized as “disabled” regarding one job doesn’t mean you can’t legitimately work another (like a less physically demanding desk job). But should you be able to collect an entire disability pension AND work? Some don’t think so:
Two freshman Republican lawmakers are seeking to cap the disability pensions paid retired municipal workers who have moved on to new jobs in the private sector.
Should the recipient of any disability pension “supported wholly or in part by a municipal or quasi-municipal entity be engaged in a gainful occupation,” the bill says, “the retirement system shall adjust and at least annually readjust…the amount of his or her disability pension.”
“If the retiree is able to work and earn a salary, then the disability benefit should be decreased,” said Rep. Michael W. Chippendale, R-Foster, of the bill that he co-sponsored and introduced on May 26, along with Rep. Patricia L. Morgan of West Warwick, a former state GOP chairwoman.
As Morgan and Chippendale explained their bill, it would allow retirees receiving disability pensions to “receive earnings that when combined with their pension equal 100 percent of their base, pre-retirement salary. For each dollar earned that exceeds this amount there would be a corresponding reduction in the pension benefit received.”
“Disability pensions are intended to provide for workers who can no longer work because they have been severely injured or have become permanently disabled. Taxpayers are more than willing to provide that benefit. Unfortunately, this system of support has been unfairly exploited,” Chippendale said.
I’m guessing this proposed limiting of disability pension remuneration is restricted to those who matriculate into the private sector because applying it to those who move from one public sector job to another are covered by collective bargaining, which probably prevents such modifications without opening up contracts. This makes me wonder how many actually go from public to private instead of stay in the public sector, collect disability, pile up the time-in-service, etc. If the number is low, how many will stay in the public sector should this be passed. Damned if you do….