New York State Senator Eric Adams (D, Brooklyn) will hold a press conference with civil rights attorney Norman Siegel to ask the US Attorney to direct a criminal investigation into retirement pension practices at the Long Island Rail Road. Senator Adams highlights a report in the New York Times indicating that former LIRR managers and employees seem to have abused the disability retirement system. The study reveals that since 2001 more than 90% of retirees over age 50 received disability payments in addition to their pensions.
Senate Adams will also announce his recommendation that the MTA board conduct an immediate investigation to determine the reason this apparent abuse of the pension system went undetected.
Senator Adams states: “At the Long Island Rail Road, there have been employees with a base pay of about $50,000 who have retired with total pensions of more than $170,00.00. There are retired managers who are taking in more than a quarter of a million dollars in total retirement compensation per year. Metro North, a commuter railroad of similar size and composition, has disability rates that are less than 5% of the LIRR rate. At a time when fare increases are a major concern for all New Yorkers, retired members of the LIRR, both regular employees and managers, seem to have been taking the taxpayers for a very different and completely inappropriate kind of ride. First, we must determine whether any laws were broken and bring the guilty parties to justice. Second, we must reform the system to eliminate abuses in retirement formulas and in work rules that exacerbate these abuses.“
Senator Adams further states: “Almost every LIRR career employee applies for disability payments upon retirement. Should we assume that the LIRR is the nation’s most dangerous place to work? Since 2002, the LIRR has been awarded national honors several times for its improvements in workplace safety. These accolades seem completely incompatible with the overwhelming number of disability applications. This outrageous inconsistency is compounded by the fact that almost every application is granted! In this decade alone, LIRR employees and managers have received a quarter of a billion dollars in disability payments. I call upon the U.S. Attorney’s Office to conduct a criminal investigation into this matter.”